Georgia doesn’t give up on casino bill

With only three days remaining of this year’s legislative session, lawmakers reintroduced two bills that would legalise casino gambling in Georgia.

US.- Georgia lawmakers have been pushing for the legalisation of casino gambling in the state for almost a year now, and every single attempt has failed. Three days away from the ending of this year’s legislative session, two bills have been reintroduced by casino supporters.

Rep Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, had introduced his bill on the last day of 2015 and it went through several changes until it was finally rejected earlier this year. His original plan included a 12 percent tax rate to be paid to the state and it up to six licenses would be allowed in locations such as Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and South Georgia. His new House Bill 158 was presented to the House Regulated Industries Committee and it includes four destination resort casinos.

Furthermore, his measure establishes that the profits would benefit the HOPE program and one upcoming needs-based scholarship program. Rep Billy Mitchell tried to vote but the committee decided not to do it. Even if Stephens introduced the bill on time, HB 158 didn’t meet the deadline established earlier this month so it can’t reach the Senate this year. Nevertheless, Stephens is confident that it can pass the committee: “We really are looking for a high-end investment for tourism. We got three days. Magic happens in three days. So, you never know.”

On the other hand, Senate Bill 5 reviews the percentage of revenue that the Georgia Lottery returns to the state that goes directly to HOPE and other grants and scholarships. According to AJC, the bill will be before the House Appropriations Committee today at 8 am CT. According to a poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution on January, 56 percent of registered voters support the idea of legalising the casino industry in the state, whilst 38 percent of them were opposed to the motion.