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House Panel Passes Resolution That Would Bring Casinos To Georgia

Legislation Would Amend Constitution And Put Casino Gaming On The Ballot In November

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A House panel passed legislation Monday that would put casino gambling on the ballot in Georgia this upcoming election season.

The House Regulated Industries Committee voted 13-3 in favor of Senate Resolution 841, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

SR841, sponsored by seven Republican senators, would amend the state constitution and allow casino gambling, horse racing and sports betting in The Peach State.

The effort was led by House Economic Development and Tourism Chairman Ron Stephens, who is arguing that the resolution would stimulate an economy in need of stimulating following the COVID-19 pandemic.

With any amendment to the constitution, it must pass a statewide referendum. If the legislation reaches the ballot this November, and it is passed by Georgia citizens, then there would be several county-by-county elections to decide if those communities wanted to allow gambling.

In order to get on the ballot, the resolution must pass with a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature.

The resolution would allow both future casinos and the Georgia Lottery to offer sports betting. Last week, a sports betting bill passed a Senate committee, but lawyers advising the state say that a constitutional amendment is the best way to set it up.

Under the plan, tax revenue from gambling establishment would be split up into three separate state funds. The state would use the revenue to fund emergency funds, general funds and an “opportunity fund” that helps poor families pay for pre-K and college.

A gambling expansion that would include casinos has been on the mind of lawmakers for quite some time. Last January, Georgia lawmakers held a public hearing on casino gambling at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The Speedway’s president, Ed Clark, released renderings last October of a casino resort complex built on site.