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Georgia Governor Deal Might Support Casino Bill
- January 25, 2017 By Oliver Young -
Casino gambling legalisation is definitely one of the hottest issues in Georgia in this period. Earlier this month we reported on the latest attempt by Senator Brandon Breach to legalise casinos. Now support is gathering behind the proposal and this time it seems that the attempt might be successful.
The reason why this time casino legalisation proponents managed to persuade a larger number of stakeholders to support the proposal is the fact that this bill is a compromise and an improvement of previous legalisation bills that have been rejected. In the currently proposed bill the number of casinos that will be established is limited to just two and pari-mutuel bets on horse racing will not be permitted as it was planned with one of the previous proposals.
Both the Senate and the House Will Debate the Bill
It has been reported that, another bill identical to the one proposed by Brandon Breach will be submitted by House Representative Ron Stephens. That way, the bills containing the same text and provisions will be up for consideration by both the Senate and the House.
A state-wide support will be more than necessary, as according to the current Constitution of the State of Georgia, the establishment of casinos in the states is prohibited, which means that a constitutional amendment will have to be passed before casinos can be legalised. If both bills are passed, that will be a clear indication that the attitude towards legalisation in the state has changed.
A state-wide referendum where the citizens will have the right to decide whether they want casinos in their state or not is expected to be held in 2018, if everything goes according to plan.
Some claim that allowing the establishment of casinos on Georgian territory will hurt the country’s lottery. That is often listed as one of the main reasons for opposing the proposed bill. Others oppose the bill on moral grounds, claiming that gambling might produce social ills.
Increased Tax Rate May Have Changed the Governor’s Mind
On the other hand, Senator Beach is quite optimistic. According to the bill, one of the two casino resorts should be established in the Atlanta area. This one would be a large ‘destination’ resort and the investment would have to be at least $2 billion. MGM has already pledged to invest in Georgia if the state legalises casinos in the near future.
The second casino resort is planned to be located in the area of either Columbus, Savannah or Augusta and the required investment should be at least $450 million.
One key reason why this attempt might actually be successful is that Governor Nathan Deal now said that he would consider backing up the proposal, whereas last year he was opposed to the casino legalisation proposal.
Deal’s support is due to the fact that the tax rate in this proposal is set at 20%, whereas last year the proposed rate was only 12%. The Governor would prefer a 24% rate and Representative Stephens already stated that the rate is negotiable.
Furthermore, under the new proposal, 70% of the gaming proceeds will go to the HOPE Scholarship fund and some claim that this was a strong initiative for the Governor to change his mind.