Augusta Commissioners Add Support for Casino Gaming

by Kyle Miller

Augusta, GeorgiaCommissioners in Augusta, Georgia have now shown their support for the legalization of casinos in the state.

When one travels across the United States, it can be interesting to see the environment of every state. In regards to casino gaming, each state of the nation is different. You may visit Mississippi and be able to enjoy your favorite casino games at a gaming venue while Alabama offers nothing of the sort, except one tribal casino. Go to Tennessee and you have the option to enjoy the lottery while traveling to Nevada gives you access to casino games wherever you go. There are still states in the US that do not offer casino gaming but several are warming up to the idea. Last year, the state of Georgia began considering legalizing casino gaming and already in 2017, support has been offered to help push the idea into action.

Augusta on Board

Several cities and counties have already shown their support for casino gaming legalization in the state in 2016. This year, Augusta officials have already decided to join the cause and support lobbying efforts to see casinos become a reality. WALB News Fox 54 is reporting that the commissioners of August voted unanimously to allocate funds to help educate the public on how the state would be able to benefit from casino gaming.

Last year, a bill known as HR 807 introduced by Representative Ron Stephens, would have provided a question on the November ballot to ask residents of the state for an amendment to the state constitution to legalize gaming. The bill includes allowing as many as four gaming venues to be created, with two to be located in the metro Atlanta area. However, the bill never moved past the House floor.

In Georgia, legislation must be approved by the House of Representatives as well as the state Senate before it will be considered further. House Representatives now have plans to tackle the issue yet again but being more aggressive with their processes.

Stephens already has plans to present a similar bill to the proposal of 2016 that was able to gain approval by the Regulated Industries Committee back in February of last year. The HR 807 bill called for a minimum investment of $1.25 billion for a casino in the Atlanta area while the other would need to involve $750 million. The additional licenses would need to be $400 million in investments.

Is Casino Gaming the Answer?

Proponents of casino gaming in the state feel that gambling via casinos will be the answer the state is looking for when it comes to the high demand for HOPE Scholarships. At minimum, as much as 90% of the profits from the casino game revenue will go towards this program. The HOPE fund is currently provided for by the state lottery.

Marion Williams is the Commissioner for District 9 in Augusta who spoke with Fox News 54 stating that he is in support for anything that will generate money for the area. He hopes that Augusta will be able to benefit from it.

The gambling bill last year divided the state into regions to determine where the casinos would go. Both Atlanta and Augusta were placed in the same region, within the northern portion of the state where two casinos would be possible. The Augusta Legislative Delegation is hoping that Augusta will be chosen for a gaming venue and are currently making efforts to lobby for that to happen.

As many as 49 registrations have been made on behalf of casino operators based on state lobbying records with MGM Resorts and the Las Vegas Sands interested in being involved if casino gaming were to come to fruition.