Troup Baptist Association Comes Out Against Georgia Casinos
The largest religious group in the state of Georgia has come forward in opposition to casino gaming efforts.
Georgia is one of the southern US states that does not currently offer casino gaming. Like its neighbor Alabama, Georgia does not have any form of casino in existence. Over the past year or so, efforts have been made to bring in sports betting and casinos to no avail. One main reason that gambling has not expanded in the state is due to its conservative stance among residents and lawmakers. A coalition of casino companies recently decided to join forces in an attempt to see the state get started with casino gaming. However, now, the religious groups are coming out in opposition. Troup Baptist Association recently began to speak out about why casinos do not need to come to Georgia.
No Casinos Here
The Troup Baptist Association began to show its opposition to the idea of casinos after it was announced that the casino companies were looking at sites in LaGrange. Aaron McCollough is the leader of the Association who stated that the group needs to get out in front of the effort and avoid waiting until a measure comes up for a vote. At that point, it would be too late.
According to media outlets, several locations are being considered for a casino alongside LaGrange including Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, and Kingsland. Foxwoods Resort Casinos, Penn National Gaming, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Hard Rock, and Bally’s are reportedly all working together to try and convince lawmakers to legalize casino gaming by the next session.
For McCollough, the anti-gambling groups need to come together to thwart such an effort. He wants all the Baptists in the state to tell the governor and lawmakers that they are opposed to casinos and will hold those accountable who decide to push the effort.
McCollough is not only a member of the Association, but he is also a member of the Public Affairs Committee for the Georgia Baptist Convention. The group has over 1.4 million members spread across 3,600 churches in the state. The convention has long been opposed to expanded gambling.
Crime and Addiction
Whenever a religious group becomes involved with a gambling issue, the same argument is used. No matter what type of gambling is on the table, religious groups tend to think that it will cause an increase in crime and addiction.
Proponents point out that casino services bring in new jobs as well as revenues to the city they are located in as well as the state. For opponents, they say that the economic benefits are failed from the start because as gambling is increased, so is crime, addiction, and bankruptcy,
Those who wish to see Georgia offer casino gaming say that the state is already losing out on tax revenues because people travel to nearby states to gamble. If casinos were readily available, residents wouldn’t have to leave, and the money would stay in the state.
Religious groups do not believe in this reasoning. They say that other activity takes place that should not be legalized such as prostitution and illegal drug activity. And these things should not be legalized just because they are taking place.
It will be interesting to see if the proponents are able to push the effort or if there will be too much opposition to see an effort move forward in any way, shape, or form. If Georgia is able to pass legislation for casino gaming, it might be the push that states like Alabama need to get in on the action as well.