In 2016, the discussion became serious for the state of Georgia to begin offering Las Vegas style casino gaming. It is likely that these talks will begin again as Legislature reconvenes today. State Senator Brandon Beach had been a big supporter of expanding gambling in the state and has stated that he would like to try again to convince other lawmakers of the state that horse track and casinos could help to bridge a gap in the state budget, something the state has been unable to do for some time.
It is believed that early on this year, a gambling expansion bill will be introduced. Varying reports suggest that a proposed bill will either include casinos or casino gaming and horse racing tracks. Over the past few years in the state, gambling has been discussed but never gained any traction with lawmakers. Beach has pushed for such laws in the past to allow gambling facilities in the state including such options as horse tracks, but has been unsuccessful. It is believed that if Beach were to introduce a bill it would be opposed by lawmakers.
Yet, Beach still believes he can find a solution. The Senator feels that his proposal would be able to contribute money via tax revenues, with the money being used for education. He feels this will see lawmakers come to his side. The HOPE scholarship program was created in the state to provide college and university students with assistance financially for school.
In the past, the program paid 100% of tuition for eligible students. Now, the program pays around 70%. The program is currently funded by the state Lottery. Beach and others in support of gambling expansion have pointed out that revenues could be used to provide additional money for the program.
Beach’s proposal would see as many as 5 casinos created in the state and one horse racing venue. Operators would be able to apply for a primary license to start construction and operate a casino venue. A minimum of $1 billion in investment would be required.
If a measure were to be passed in favor of a gambling expansion this year, it would then have to be voted on by residents. This would happen by 2018.