Only a few days after Jim Murren, the Chief Executive Officer for MGM Resorts International, told a group of Atlanta business leaders that his company was looking to develop a $1.4 billion facility in the area and another major American casino operator has entered the fray.
According to a report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Limited has hired law firm Dentons to lobby for legalized casino gambling in Georgia ahead of the 2017 legislative session.
The newspaper reported that Dentons lobbyists Jeff Hamling, Ed Lindsey, Amy Odom and Ben Vinson had registered to represent the owner of the 1,000-room Wynn Macau and the coming $2.1 billion Wynn Boston Harbor Resort at state and local levels despite neither the law firm or Wynn Resorts Limited commenting on the claims.
Monday saw Murren tell the Rotary Club Of Atlanta that his company is still interested in developing a casino resort in Atlanta should legislators pass a state constitutional amendment legalizing the industry. Citing a recent survey from Central Atlanta Progress, he declared that gamblers in the area travelled out of state to spend more than $600 million every year at casinos. The report estimated that the gambling market in Georgia would be worth around $2.5 billion a year while a 20% tax rate could annually generate close to $400 million for public and social services.
Murren also highlighted the fact that Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program, which is funded by the state’s lottery, is facing financial challenges despite having $1 billion pumped into a number of educational programs last year and stated that casinos could help officials raise significant funds for the scheme through tax while creating thousands of new jobs.
But, the drive to legalize casino gambling in Georgia has received a lot of opposition from religious and business leaders that believe the industry would bring more harm than good. Lawmakers tried earlier this year to pass an amendment that would have permitted up to four casinos for the southern state with two of these in Atlanta but the measure drew criticism from Republican governor Nathan Deal and ultimately failed.