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Georgia Senate Committee Moves Forward With Gaming Bill

Georgia Senate Committee Moves Forward With Gaming Bill

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The legalization of casinos and sports betting inched at least a bit closer in Georgia last week after clearing a key state senate committee.

However, the issue still will need the support of both full houses of the general assembly and the signature of Gov. Brian Kemp® before moving on to voters as a referendum on the ballot. The Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved the proposed constitutional amendment.

“Let’s put this issue to bed,” bill sponsor Sen. Carden Summers® told the committee. “I trust the people of Georgia to make this decision.”

Bringing The Issue To Voters

The move comes after some legislators in the state met with industry representatives in October to discuss the issue.

The Peach State doesn’t have legalized casinos or betting on horse races, but neighboring states like Tennessee and North Carolina have already legalized sports betting and Alabama is currently considering expanded casino gaming as well.

Summers noted that more than 80,000 Georgia residents head out of state each month to gamble. Many in the state may also be engaging in sports betting via offshore sites.

The senator is hoping the referendum gets approved and helps keep some of those jobs, revenue, and taxes within the state. Summers noted the success of the state lottery in funding education since launching in 1993.

Making it out of committee is at least some success in itself considering the issue has been brought up several times but never made it to the assembly for a vote.

Details On The Bill

The bill would allow up to five casinos in the state and see 50% of casino and sports betting tax revenue earmarked toward transportation improvements. Another 20% would go toward pre-kindergarten and childcare programs.

The final 30% would help fund mental health and gambling addiction programs, rural health care, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the state.

Georgia isn’t the only state looking to legalize casinos. Hawaii has seen recent efforts to legalize casino gambling, and after selling the Dallas Mavericks to the Sand Corporation, Mark Cuban has also planned for a casino in Texas, but that faces long odds at this time.