Casino Gaming in Georgia? Don’t Bet On It Just Yet

Currently, the State of Georgia does not allow casino gaming. Indeed, several analysts have even classified Georgia as one of the three states in the nation that is least accommodating to gambling. However, there are many who hold the belief that Georgia’s ban on casino gambling may be lifted in the near future. Indeed, there are legislators and analysts who hold the view that in 2017, Georgia may join the expanding roster of states that authorize and maybe endorse casino gambling.

Presently, the State of Georgia permits only three types of gambling: (1) Bingo, (2) the Georgia State Lottery, and (3) Charitable Raffles. Georgia law regarding gambling is notably stringent, as just three forms of gambling are legally allowed in the state. Georgia law clearly prohibits activities such as horse racing, dog racing, election wagering, commercial gambling, dog fighting, chain letters, pyramid clubs, and casino gaming.

Although Georgia’s gambling regulations are severe and restrictive, there has been a recent tendency within the Georgia State Legislature towards legalizing casino gaming. In 2012, the Georgia Senate narrowly approved the construction and operation of a terrestrial casino, with the intention of using the generated income to support educational programs at both the state and municipal levels. The proposed bill, meanwhile, was not ratified and did not come into force. However, the 2012 vote at least indicated optimism for supporters of casino gambling in Georgia.

Observers have pointed out that in 2015 and 2016, Georgia lawmakers engaged in extensive and significant deliberations over the potential establishment of casino gambling in the state. State Senator Brandon Beach, a staunch champion for casino gaming, has strongly emphasized his support for the legalization of horse racing and casino gaming as a means to generate funds for the HOPE Scholarship Program. Beach has previously proposed the building and running of up to five casinos and one horse-racing facility in Georgia. Beach argues that the establishment of these new venues would lead to a rise in tax revenues that would be allocated to Georgia’s treasury. Consequently, this would contribute to the financing and development of educational programs, scholarships, and financial aid options for the student population in Georgia. A research published Goldsbet by Central Atlanta Progress on January 11 projected that casino gaming in Georgia has the potential to produce an annual revenue of $320 million to $400 million.

The Georgia Legislature began its most recent session in early January 2017, with Beach and his allies aiming to resume discussions on legalizing casino gambling. Their objective is to allocate all income generated from casino gaming towards educational and scholarship purposes. Although these causes are undoubtedly commendable, the prevailing view among scholars and commentators is that any new proposals presented in the Georgia Legislature would face strong opposition from a majority of lawmakers in Georgia due to political, religious, and social factors. Ultimately, the acceptability of casino gaming will be determined by the voters of Georgia.

While the legalization of casino gaming may not be happening soon, there is far greater support for it today compared to previous years. Given the increasing backing for casino gaming, it seems probable that Georgia will eventually join the expanding roster of states that have authorized this kind of gambling.

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