The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that MGM Resorts International has recently hired five lobbyists to advocate on their behalf. This action correlates with the introduction of House Bill 677, intended to put the legalization of casino gambling before Georgian state voters.
Casino gambling is not currently legal in Georgia, and will require a constitutional amendment approved by the citizens of the state to become so. To facilitate the process, Ron Stephens (R) and Chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee along with several other State Representatives introduced an amendment that would authorize a maximum of 6 resort casinos in the state.
In the meantime, Georgia’s House of Representatives did pass a resolution creating a study committee to examine the impact of legalized gambling on March 31 – just prior to the end of the 2015 state legislative session.
Legislators estimate that up to $250 million dollars in tax revenue would be generated by these resorts, in addition to the creation of 10,000 direct jobs. Casino developers would also be required to invest $1 billion into an Atlanta area casino and $200 million each for licenses in other parts of the state.
Information available to the study committee includes a report generated by Marquette Advisors, a financial consultant that analyzes casino-related projects, reporting that Georgia residents spend $350 million dollars a year at casinos in nearby states. Additionally, MGM commissioned a poll by McLaughlin & Associates – a top Pollster for Georgia Republican leaders – that found nearly 60 percent of Georgians support legalizing casinos to benefit the state’s HOPE scholarship fund.
Georgia’s lottery-funded scholarship program has endured financial struggles, due to the fact that lottery revenue has fallen flat. Representative Stephens and others perceive that international quality casino resorts could fill the revenue gap.