Georgia Pushing For Casinos Packaged In ‘Destination Resorts’
The push to legalize the casino industry in Georgia continues in 2017 with Senator Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta and state representative Ron Stephens, R-Savannah looking to introduce new gaming bills in the State House and Senate this week.
Legislators in Savannah and Atlanta have been campaigning hard for a number of months to get a new gaming bill approved that would allow casinos in the state.
The two gaming bills propose ‘destination resorts’ which will have hotels, restaurants, entertainment facilities and a casino.
Legislators in favour of legalizing the casino industry are confident that these destination resorts will attract both gaming and non-gaming customers and generate significant gaming revenue for the state.
The proposed gaming bill will give the state of Georgia a 20 percent stake on the revenue made by these destination resorts. They money will be used to fund the HOPE college scholarship program which is currently being funded by the state lottery but is in much need of a financial boost as the revenue generated from the state lottery has fallen behind.
Currently gamblers from Atlanta travel across the border and play at casinos in Florida and South Carolina. Legislators want to develop casinos near the state border so that they can keep gambling revenue within the state and also attract gamblers from neighbouring states. One casino is expected to be developed in central Atlanta while the second one could be developed in coastal Georgia.
Legislators in rural Georgia are not very convinced as of now in backing the proposed gambling bill as they do not see how their respective communities will benefit from these destination resorts. Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon is one of these legislators who feels that the gaming bill will not benefit his district which covers seven counties.
In a statement, Lucas said
You talking about putting a casino in Atlanta? You think folks in Hahira are going to be working up here in Atlanta? I think there’s a way to do it, but unless there’s a guarantee that money goes in health care, rural health care and trauma centers, I’m against it.
State Rep. Robert Dickey echoed a similar view stating that while he supports the HOPE scholarship program, he wants a bill that will funnel the revenue generated from the casino industry into other programs other than the HOPE scholarship so that the money can be used in rural areas to help those who were struggling financially.
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