According to an exclusive interview, reporters for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) have disclosed that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal might support the legislature’s current casino bill – if the bill’s featured tax rate were to double or triple.
Currently the suggested casino tax levy is set at 12 percent. Deal needs to see a much higher casino contribution of 24 to 35 percent of the gross revenue for him to consider backing the bill. In the meantime and until proposed tax revenue projections increase significantly, Governor Deal plans to actively oppose the legislative push towards casino and pari-mutuel track gambling. He told the AJC, “I will make my position very clear to the member of the General Assembly …. This is not something I view as positive …. And in my opinion it has very little redeeming value.”
The legalization of casino and pari-mutuel gambling in Georgia does not rest on the Governor’s shoulders though. Both the state House and Senate must approve a bill by a two-thirds majority that would then give the voting citizens of Georgia the option to amend the state constitution to permit gambling. Deal is respectful of this process telling the AJC, “Once you have the vote of the people, and it expresses the will of the people of the state, it certainly puts any implementing legislation in a different light.”
Georgia lawmakers are eager to boost the state’s education funding, particularly the HOPE scholarship and pre-kindergarten. Currently these programs are funded by the state’s lottery, and contribute around 25 percent of sales to these Georgia education programs.
Governor Deal does not expect that casino corporations to pony up an equal or greater percentage of gross revenue but stated that if they did, “that would be a totally different proposition.”