Casino gambling has been on the mind of legislators in the state of Georgia for some time now. Even though efforts are stalled for this year, the option will most likely be up for discussion in 2017. Lawmakers are discussing possible areas in which casinos could be built in the state in anticipation.
The areas under consideration include the I-95 corridor which is located near Georgia and South Carolina. In the past, Hutchinson Island was being considered but now is not due to the fact that the same amount of traffic would not be pulled in as it would be with an area near I-95. Representative Ron Stephens of Savannah has shown support for the casino bill but is not sure what will happen since the measure is controversial. According to Stephens, legislators are at the beginning of conversation to see where it goes.
This week, Stephens spoke to city leaders about the initiative created to save the state Hope Scholarship fund. Efforts have not stopped to save the program despite the bill dying on Crossover Day in the legislative session from last year. Lawmakers have now stated the idea to create a Las Vegas style casino have moved from the Hutchinson Island area to the corridor including I-95.
According to Stephens, the majority would like to see the lottery expanded and no company has shown interest in the Hutchinson Island area for a gaming venue. Interest has been focused on I-95 at both ends of the state, in areas heading towards Florida or South Carolina. Developers would like to have the ability to catch travelers who will be moving north or south along the interstate.
With this plan, the area of Pooler would see more growth which is something the city would like to see. Director of the Pooler Chamber of Commerce Pam Southard is in favor of a gaming venue in the area but reported that there are many who are not. Southard believes there will be some pushback from those who are opposed. Those included in the opposed are the mayor of Pooler, Mike Lamb.
It has been estimated that if a gaming venue were to be created in the area, as many as 25,000 permanent jobs would be created. Essentially, it will depend on if a bill is brought back when the New Year begins. According to Stephens, the timing may not be right to see casino gambling passed into law just yet, but that hasn’t kept lobbyists on both sides of the issue from trying to advance their causes.