In Georgia, the long-running debate as to whether the southern American state should legalize casinos is reportedly set to heat up next week with pro-gambling lawmakers expected to introduce re-tooled legislation.
According to a report from local television broadcaster WXIA-TV, last year saw pro-casino legislators fail in an attempt to pass a measure that would have asked voters to approve amending the state’s constitution in order to permit up to six Class III establishments including one for the nation’s ninth largest urban area around Atlanta.
Ron Stephens, a Republican member of the Georgia House Of Representatives, told WXIA-TV that the odds of the latest passing legislation, which would also ask voters to approve casino gambling in the state, are “better than last year” despite the issue not yet being visible in a big way.
“If you have a casino in the world, all eyes are focused on Georgia right now,” said Stephens. “It is the plum.”
Although the final language of the legislation has yet to be confirmed, Stephens told WXIA-TV that this time around lawmakers are considering limiting the state to only two casinos while increasing the tax rate by 8% to around 20% with any funds earmarked for education programs. The representative for the suburbs of Savannah moreover revealed that the measure could include support for the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) merit-based secondary education scholarship and grant program alongside a new needs-based college scholarship fund.
Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle reportedly told the television broadcaster that the issue of whether to permit casinos in the state of 10.2 million people “does not have a lot of momentum” since the previous incarnation of the legislation failed in March although the Republican acknowledged that this status could rapidly change.
“I predict this year we’re probably going to have a vote,” Stephens told WXIA-TV.