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Georgia Lawmakers Take Second Look At Casinos In 2020 Legislative Session

Atlanta Motor Speedway President Proposed Adding $1 Billion Casino Complex On Site

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Georgia is one of the 10 states that does not house a land-based casino, but that might change in the near future following a renewed push by lawmakers to focus on bringing expanded gambling to the Peach State.

More than 200 residents showed up to a public hearing on gambling expansion last Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Special Committee on Economic Growth, a committee made up of 15 state representatives, hosted the hearing to gather input from the local community.

Georgia lawmakers looked at the issue last year but delayed the issue until 2020 after a senate panel tasked with studying the effects of gambling decided to delay making recommendations on the matter.

According to local media, during the last legislative session, the state government had plenty of cash, but now the coffers are running out. Some feel that the lawmakers are more open to passive gambling expansion in order to fund government programs.

In order to pass gambling expansion in Georgia, it would require an amendment to the state constitution, which would require a public referendum.

House Speaker Rep. David Ralston told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he wants to see the measure pass in the legislature so that ultimately the people have the final say in the matter.

“Do we trust Georgians enough to let them make the decision?” asked Ralston, a Republican. “We’ve talked about this issue here for years. One of these days, we’re either going to have to say we’re going to quit talking, or we’re going to vote it. Whichever way it comes out, it comes out.”

Since casinos need a constitutional amendment, it would take a two-thirds majority vote in both the house and senate before citizens could have a crack at the ballot box.

If passed, the site of the hearing could be the site of the state’s first casino. Ed Clark, president of the Atlanta Motor Speedway, released renderings last October of his plan to turn the speedway into a casino resort complex.

His plans would add a casino, hotel, indoor/outdoor water park, a concert venue, a night club and several other attractions to the race track. It would turn the speedway into more of a year-round destination for tourists instead of just populated when NASCAR is in town in the spring.

“You could come and enjoy it for gaming or you could come just for the show, bring your family and do the water park or other activities and not even have to go into the casino,” Clark told the local NBC affiliate.

Kansas Motor Speedway and Delaware’s Dover International Speedway each have casinos attached to them.

Clark believes that the proposed project would cost $1 billion, create 3,000 construction jobs and between 4,000-5,000 jobs once the complex opens its doors to the public.