Georgia Committee Pushes Legalized Gambling on Statewide Tour

  • Economic Development Committee discussing casinos, sports betting, horse racing with locals
  • The goal is to get a voter referendum in Georgia on the November 2020 ballot regarding gambling
  • So far, local officials seem to be on board with the possibility of legalized gambling in the state
  • Legalization believed to generate billions that could go towards helping local communities
microphone on podium with audience in auditorium
The Georgia Economic Development Committee has embarked on a statewide listening tour to push for gambling legalization among local communities. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Call for legalization in the state

In an effort to push legal gambling, members of the Georgia Economic Development Committee are currently on a statewide “listening tour” to provide information on legalizing the pastime in the state.

The group is traveling throughout Georgia to discuss their thoughts on gambling with the local communities. Their goal is to see a referendum on the November 2020 ballot, with voters being provided with enough information to approve the measure.

The Economic Development Committee is a newly formed group by the state House of Representatives which aims to focus on economic issues facing communities across Georgia.

Positive views on gambling

The committee stopped first in Valdosta, where many local authorities spoke in favor of gambling and recognized its ability to bring new revenues to the state.

lawmakers believe the industry could generate billions for the state

The committee is reviewing three systems for Georgia during the listening tour, namely casinos, horse racing, and sports betting. State officials feel they all serve a different purpose. Lawmakers believe the industry could generate billions for the state via gaming taxes, job creation, new infrastructure, and tourism.

Chairman Representative Allen Powell has estimated that, with just horse racing in play, legalized gambling would create billions for the state’s agriculture. Powell also suggests the gambling industry would create close to 24 employment positions for every race horse that takes part.

state is missing out on funds that could be used to help local communities

According to Powell, residents of Georgia are visiting neighboring states like Alabama or North Carolina or taking boats from Jekyll Island to gamble. The state is missing out on funds that could be used to help local communities.

For Powell, the ideal scenario for the gambling funds would be healthcare. He said: “Across party, across gender, across race, across economic status. If that money, if the people of Georgia legalize it, then the revenues could go to healthcare.”

Constitutional amendment required

Gambling cannot be automatically legalized in the state of Georgia due to the requirement of an amendment to the constitution. Lawmakers must place a voter referendum on the ballot. Voters must then approve the referendum for any change to move forward.

By touring across the state, the Economic Development Committee aims to inform residents – and eligible voters – about the opportunities gambling could provide.

Atlanta sports teams want betting

While the committee is busy with its tour, professional sports teams are pushing for legalized sports betting. According to VSO News, the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, the MLB’s Atlanta Braves, and the Atlanta United of the MLS united to create the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance in support of sports betting.

The group sent a letter to local lawmakers stating that Georgia is the 12th-largest market for illegal sports betting in the US. The alliance feels the black market will not go away and believe lawmakers could create an industry that is above board and transparent.

The alliance was formed because the teams want to advise the legislature if it were to consider drafting sports betting legislation.