Georgia General Assembly starts a new 40-day legislative session this week. The enthusiasts of bringing casino gambling to the state hope that the topic will be central to the state’s future.
Senator Brandon Beach wants to introduce a proposal to open five casinos and one horse racing track in the coming legislative.
The most recent state polls reveal that most of voters want casinos to be opened in the state.
A poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that 56 % of registered voters support the introduction of casinos while only 38 % are against them.
Senator Beach wants two-thirds of the House and Senate to agree the legislation to then put the issue to voters in a 2018 referendum.
Senator Brandon Beach:
The bill will propose a 12% tax on gross gaming revenue even though that figure will probably have to grow in order to be approved by the General Assembly. Casinos in Maryland are taxed at up to 67%.
Senator Beach wants the state to be split into four geographic zones: I-20 to the north, Coastal Georgia, Middle Georgia and South Georgia. The ‘primary’ license would be awarded to a leading casino operator, with a minimum investment of $1bn in a new resort casino opened within 25 miles of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Moreover, the bill would offer four secondary licenses, each of them with a minimum investment of $250m, which would allow 2,000 gaming positions and a racino horse track license with a minimum $150m investment providing 1,500 gaming positions. The secondary licensed casino would not be located within 50 miles of the primary licensed casino. The new gaming facilities would be regulated by a division of the Georgia Lottery Corporation, which would also control awarding the licenses.
House Speaker David Ralston does not believe the legislation will be enacted this year.
House Speaker David Ralston:
The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition hopes that a decision on giving a green light to pari-mutuel wagering and a racino in Georgia will be put before voters. It wants to see Piedmont Park, a Thoroughbred racetrack near Atlanta, come to fruition.