Georgia Lawmaker Introduces Casino Gambling Measure
Representative Ron Stephens has introduced new legislation in the Georgia House to legalize casino gambling.
Lawmakers in Georgia are just not giving up when it comes to legalizing casino gambling. The state is one of a select few that does not offer casinos and for years, lawmakers as well as proponents have been trying to see casinos brought to the state. Over the past few years, the lottery has provided funds to the HOPE Scholarship fund to send kids to college. That fund is running low and casino taxes would be one way to bring in more money to the fund. But despite this fact and efforts being made, legislation always falls short. This week though, one lawmaker is trying again, having introduced a new measure within the House.
House Resolution 30
Representative Ron Stephens is the Chairman of the House Tourism and Economic Development sector, who recently filed House Resolution 30. This resolution seeks to put a question on the ballot in 2022 that would ask voters if they support casino gaming in the state.
This is the second piece of legislation filed by Stephens and there is still one more to be introduced. House Bill 86 was the first, a measure that would legalize online sports betting. With the third measure, Stephens would legalize horse racing.
According to Stephens, the goal is to backfill the HOPE Scholarship program and Pre-K. Any destination resorts and tourism options is one way to do so. Supporters of gambling expansion in Georgia expect that the industries will bring thousands of jobs and bring hundreds of millions for the scholarship fund.
To be able to add casino gambling as well as horse racing to the state, residents of Georgia will need to approve an amendment to the constitution. Supporters of the change, like Stephens, feel that a resolution is not needed to expand the state into the sports betting realm.
The sports betting bill has a better shot at passing quicker due to the lesser requirements. However, the bill needs over 50% of each chamber to support it for it to move on to the governor’s desk. With a constitutional amendment, like what is needed with casino and horse racing, two-thirds of the General Assembly is required. A majority vote is then also needed on the ballot.
Of course, there are those who are opposed to any gambling expansion in Georgia. While the lottery has been in operation since 1992 and has provided plenty of education opportunities in the state, those who are opposed are not ready to see new gaming options added. Conservative groups along with religious organizations are opposed to any form of expansion within the gambling realm.
These groups feel that gambling is immoral and addictive. They argue that gambling will lead to more crime, divorce, bankruptcy, and a host of other problems. This opposition is quite common given that the state is considered to be in the bible belt and most people are Christians who disagree with gambling.
The argument against gambling is always the same among conservatives, no matter the gaming option. Such groups believe that any addition, be it a casino or even online gambling, will cause strive in the home through addiction and crime. This has been proven not the case time and time again, but such groups continue to speak this rhetoric in order to try and win against any gambling initiatives.
The outcome of the sports betting bill will help to determine how the casino one might fare. Since less effort is needed for the sports betting one, if enough support is given, then the casino measure will stand a fighting chance of passing into law in Georgia.