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Georgian Lawmakers to Discuss Casino Legalisation Bill

- February 20, 2017 By Oliver Young -

The number of legalisation proponents is growing.

If the bill is passed, it will allow two casinos to be established.

Georgia is one of the several states where casino gambling legalisation has been a hotly debated issue in the past few years. It seems that the number of US states that consider taking a step towards legalisation is increasing and it seems that gambling legalisation proponents will becoming even more active in the years to come.

Gambling legalisation was proposed two years ago and few operators have already expressed their interest to invest in a Georgian casino resort if the state goes through with the legalisation, but the Governor Deal stated that he was opposed to casino legalisation.

High Revenues Expected

Now, it seems that the landscape has changed slightly in the past year. State Senator Brandon Beach is the person behind the casino legalisation plan and he confirms that the plan now receives a much more positive reception compared to over a year ago. The plan was already reviewed and discussed by Georgia’s Regulated Industries Committee, but there was no vote or final conclusion. The Chairman of the Committee said that another hearing will be held very soon.

Beach made certain adjustments to the plan, and under the latest proposal no more than two casinos will be permitted, where one has to be located in a county which has over 650 thousand residents and another in a county which is populated by more than 180 thousand.

Beach is very enthusiastic about the economic benefits of casino legalisation. He said that the expected level of investments would come close to $2.5 billion and about 7.500 new jobs will be generated, on a permanent basis. The economic benefits are probably the strongest argument in favour of legalisation and, perhaps, the main reason why the Governor now considers supporting legalisation.

The casinos would be required to pay taxes in an amount equal to 20% of their revenues and it is estimated that the total sum that the state would receive every year will be in the range of $350 million. Half of that money will go towards the HOPE scholarship program, 30% will also go towards college grants and the remaining 20% will be spent on health care in rural areas.

Strong Arguments in Favour of Legalisation

In order to make the proposal more appealing, Beach added a provision which states that before a casino licence can be awarded, voters in the respective county will have to approve the casino establishment on a local referendum.

The Vice-President Erik Balsbaugh of the US Gaming Association also addressed the issue of casino legalisation in Georgia, giving full support to Beach’s proposal. Balsbaugh said that the popularity of casino games in the country is at a record high level and that Georgia should definitely take advantage of that.

Some of the representatives of the Georgian denominations had certain worries regarding the legalisation and some were concerned that casino legalisation would severely hurt the Georgian lottery.

State Senator Miller said that Atlanta has to become more competitive and provide tourists with a ‘downtown experience’ it know lacks. He then listed a number of cities which, according to him, offer such an experience to its visitors, including Las Vegas, New Orleans and Chicago.

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