More than a half of Georgia’s voters support the legalization of casino gambling within the state’s borders, a recent poll by the Georgia College and State University showed. About 58% of all interviewed individuals spoke in favor of the potential casino expansion in the state.
Georgia lawmakers have been pushing for legalization of casinos for several years now and it is believed that the debate on the topic will be renewed early next year. Expanded gambling proponents have suggested that a portion of casino revenues could be funneled to the HOPE Program.
The scholarship program was created back in 1993 to reward students with the finances they need to study at certain Georgia colleges and universities, both public and private ones. It is important to note that HOPE is wholly funded by the Georgia Lottery at present.
According to previous estimates, the construction of two casinos in two different parts of the state could generate up to $600 million in revenue.
Georgia’s Latest Failed Casino Legalization Push
The casino expansion debate was renewed in the state Legislature early in 2017 when Sen. Brandon Beach introduced SB 79. The piece of legislation proposed the legalization of casino gambling and the construction of two “destination resorts” in two different parts of the state.
Under the bill, one of the resorts had to be located in the Atlanta Metropolitan area and to cost at least $2 billion. Las Vegas casino and hotel developer MGM Resorts International expressed particular interest in that opportunity. In fact, it has been for several years now that the major gambling company has watched closely the development of Georgia’s casino expansion effort in a bid to be among the early birds to arrive in case the local market is eventually opened.
The construction of a second casino in other part of the state was also proposed under SB 79. The legislative piece put a $450 million price tag to that project.
Although Sen. Beach’s bill did gain some support in the Legislature, it was eventually voted down in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee in February. The piece’s sponsor said that while it was dead for 2017, he would renew his casino expansion push in 2018.
Last month, a group of four Republican gubernatorial candidates said that they would all oppose any form of casino gambling expansion in the state, if they assume the position of Georgia’s top official. The state’s gubernatorial election is set to take place next November.
Other members of the state’s GOP state committee have also expressed their opposition to the potential expansion of the state’s gambling industry. In August, the committee approved a resolution that stated that the legalization of casino gaming would nurture “predatory activities” and would impact the lives of Georgia residents in quite a negative manner.