MGM Resorts CEO Pitches For Dialogue On Casino Legalization In Georgia
Jim Murren, the chief executive officer of MGM Resorts International has reiterated the company’s interest in developing a $1 billion casino resort in the state of Georgia where gambling is currently prohibited. A bill introduced in the Georgia Legislature to legalize casinos in the state failed last year, blocking all casino development proposals in the state.
Supporters point out that the gambling industry can create jobs and contribute tax revenue which can go towards programs like HOPE which supports education through merit-based scholarships.
A recent survey by an educational group, partially supported by the gaming industry has established that the HOPE program could see financial difficulties in a few years’ time despite receiving investments of over $1 billion in 2015.
MGM and other casino operators like Wynn Resorts have appointed lobbyists and consultants to convince the state legislators of the benefits from having casinos in the state. On a visit to Atlanta earlier this week, Murren addressed civic leaders and members of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and used the opportunity to make the case for legalizing casinos.
Speaking to media later, Murren pointed out that gamblers from Georgia were spending more than $600 million a year out of state as they cross state border lines and visited neighboring casinos to play. Murren quoted states that showed that while Georgians are interested in gambling at casinos and since there was none available in the state, they were going elsewhere to gamble.
Murren observed that Alabama offered 6,000 slot machines which was being further expanded and Harrah’s recently opened a casino right across the border. Acknowledging that the issue was complex, Murren said that the political opposition to the proposal could be sorted out by discussion.
In a statement, Murren said,
I feel like there’s been a healthy level of debate, dialogue and discussion and we are in this for the long game. We are here to provide resources. We are not the kind of company that tells any country or state what is best for them.Only Georgia can decide what is best for Georgia
With respect to the opposition from religious groups in the state, Murren said that he understood their concerns and respected their opinion but pointed out that the gambling industry plays a key role in communities generating jobs, providing livelihoods and contributing to community development. He also emphasized the company welcomed the opportunity to discuss the concerns people had and promised to put in mechanisms to address them.
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