Georgia Casino Bill Up for Committee Vote This Week

by Jim Hall

GeorgiaLegislation to allow casino gaming in the state of Georgia is up for Committee vote this week.

Across the United States, there are many options for gambling entertainment. Some states offer the lottery while others are focused on several avenues of gaming including casino, bingo, poker and more. However, there are still some states in the US that do not offer any gaming options or they are very limited on their offerings. Take Georgia for example. The state does offer the lottery but by no means do they provide any way for casino gaming to take place. However, that could change if a new bill is passed into law.

Committee Vote

A bill to legalize casino gambling in the state of Georgia continues to move forward, though at a slow pace. An amendment would be made to the constitution if SB 79 is passed into law and allow casino gambling to take place in the state. The bill is set to be heard for the very first time and voted upon in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee this week and hopefully will move forward to the next stage in legislature.

The bill was created by Senator Brandon Beach and already has seen many changes in order to be taken seriously. The hearing will take place on the matter this Thursday and if passed, the bill would move forward to the Senate Rules Committee where another vote would have to take place before a full Senate vote would be heard.

Details of the Legislation

The new bill will allow as many as two casino resorts to be constructed in the state. One would be situated in the metropolitan area of Atlanta near a convention center. The other, would be located in an urban area that must have more than 180,000 residing. The project in Atlanta must have at least $2 billion invested but the other venue does not have to see that much money spent on construction. Another requirement is that the two gaming venues must create more than half of their income from non-gambling related activities.

Many casinos are starting to focus on non-gambling activities in efforts to have additional streams of revenues alongside casino gaming. While players still enjoy casino gaming, there has been a lull in spending. Casino resorts are focusing on other areas of entertainment to ensure a wide range of visitors including spa services, dining, bars, concert venues and more.

Back to casino gaming. The gambling venues will have to pay 20% in taxes on the full year of revenue earnings. The bill will place 30% of that money towards the HOPE scholarship program of the state. This program is only funded currently by the state lottery. Additional money will be used to help provide rural areas with trauma care as well as healthcare options.

Beach has been busy working on this legislation in the Senate but this week also proposed the Senate Resolution 249 measure. This will be an accompanying measure that if approved would implement within the state constitution to allow casino gaming in the state.

However, gambling will only be allowed if voters in the state decide to pass a statewide referendum. If approved, another referendum will have to be voted upon to determine where the venues will be located.

For now, things are looking up for gambling in Georgia though efforts are slow going. It will be interesting to watch and see how the bill plays out and if everyone in the state, lawmakers and residents alike, will be in favor of casino gaming.