A different strategy to regulate casino gambling Georgia

The state's voters are likely to support a constitutional amendment.

A bill introduced on December 31st is now being held on to focus on the constitutional amendment first.

US.- Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) introduced a bill to regulate casinos’ operations a few days ago, but now he is trying to put it on the back burner so he can focus on pushing for the constitutional amendment first. “I kind of pulled everybody together and said, ‘Guys I hope you’ll help me kill my bill’,” he said.

Stephens’ bills called for a 12 percent tax rate to be paid to the state and it also proposes that up to six licenses would be allowed in locations such as Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and South  Georgia. “They were asking me before, ‘we need to do this in the bill and do that in the bill’; but none of that stuff matters unless we can get the constitutional amendment passed,” he explained.

Stephens believes the voters’ opinion will be favourable, as a poll by AJC showed 62 percent of the electorate support the idea, but the only way the measure will make it to the ballot in November, is if it passes both the House and Senate by a two-thirds majority.

Gov. Nathan Deal, has repeatedly opposed any forms of gambling outside the lottery, but the measure does not require his signature. By the same token Mike Griffin from the Georgia Baptist Convention expressed “The social costs, many times, from the benefits of this type of revenue is three-to-one in the negative; so it’s simply something that we don’t need here in the state of Georgia.”

On the other hand, the preservation of the HOPE Scholarship is paramount and in that spirit the is12 percent tax rate, Stephens’ bill proposes would bring in US$239 million. Enough to fully fund the HOPE, that is.

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