Georgia House Speaker Reveals Gambling Might Make 2022 Ballot
House Speaker David Ralston reveals that lawmakers in Georgia might be open to putting gambling on the ballot in 2022.
Gambling is a sore spot in the state of Georgia. It seems people are either for it or against it. For years, there has been talk of expanding gambling in the state, bringing casinos to areas like Atlanta, but any legislative effort has failed time and time again. It seems the conservative nature of the state continues to get in the way. However, 2022 might be different. House Speaker David Ralston recently stated that he feels lawmakers might leave the decision up to the voters this year.
Progress in 2022
In speaking during a media briefing earlier this week, Ralston stated that there is an appetite in the new session that he has not seen before when it comes to gambling. He feels that now might be the time to let the citizens decide if gambling should be expanded or not.
If the vote is yes, then lawmakers need to sit down and decide how it should happen, be it sports betting or destination resorts, or horse racing. The General Assembly seems to be leaning towards destination resorts and this might be the most successful option for the state.
The comments by Ralston seem to heighten the expectation that Georgia might be able to expand gambling beyond the lottery. The new session could see lawmakers more open to gambling in general, which would allow legislation to move further than it has in years past.
Ralston is currently proposing that a referendum be added to the ballot that would ask voters if they wanted to see more gambling services in the state. They would not define what would be allowed but simply ask if that is something that people want added.
Using Funds to Help Mental Health and Public Safety
For Ralston, he sees a gambling expansion as a way to bring a new stream of revenues to the state. The revenues would be able to help with public safety and mental health. He wants to see legislators focus on these needs rather than pushing what he calls silly bills during an election year.
In 2022, there are 12 lawmakers that are up for a higher office, along with new candidates. Legislature needs to push bills that matter rather than focus on items just to pander to their base. Generally speaking, the fact that it is an election year could hinder the possibility that gambling will be considered if those seeking reelection, or a higher office think that their supporters will not approve.
Gambling is a sore subject in general in the state due to the conservative nature of lawmakers and their constitutes. For the most part, it seems religious beliefs get in the way of any expansion of gambling services.
Churches as well as other religious organizations seem to think that gambling is a moral issue and will lead to crime, divorce, financial issues, and addiction. This is not necessarily the case, but the agenda that the opponents are pushing. If an effort is made put the legislation on the ballot, then there could be a renewed push to stop it by talking about these negatives.
Only time will tell, but 2022 could be the year that gambling actually moves forward in Georgia, even if it is just to see if the residents in the state want to expand the industry or not.