Georgia GOP Passes Anti-Gambling Resolution
Georgia’s state legislatures have begun the process of debating whether to legalize gambling in the state, but it’s certainly not going to be a smooth ride. Over the weekend, Georgia’s GOP state committee overwhelmingly pushed through a resolution in opposition to casinos and horse racing.
John Watson, the chairman of Georgia’s GOP, recused himself from voting on the matter on Saturday. Watson has advocated the legalization of gambling on behalf of the Boyd Gaming Corp. in the past.
The state’s GOP is concerned that gambling leads to increased crime and higher divorce rates. They also warn that the legalization of gambling may lead to outside Indian tribes venturing into the state looking for property on which to open a casino. The resolution said, “The state should not have a vested interest in predatory activities such as gambling for the sake of filling state coffers at the expense of ruined lives and broken families.”
Many have fought for years to get gambling legalized in Georgia. Some argue that doing so would help bolster the state’s lottery-funded HOPE scholarship, which pays in-state college tuition for students that maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0.
The idea of legalizing gambling in Georgia spurred a huge wave of opposition from religious conservatives and other detractors. Many united against putting forth legislation this year that would have allowed for the construction of a pair of “destination resort” casinos.
The initial version of the resolution also included betting on fantasy sports, but that has since been scratched. Rep. Trey Kelley, who urged forward legislation that would reclassify fantasy points so that it would not violate anti-gambling laws, said he was glad activists ignored “rhetorical cries” to include daily fantasy sports in the new resolution.
The reasons for the GOP’s anti-gambling resolution are listed below:
- Because gamblers are twice as likely to divorce as non-gamblers
- An increase in local crime by at least 10 percent within five years or less after the establishment of a casino, including an increase in prostitution
- Local job loss because local citizens change their spending habits
- An increase in bankruptcies
- An increase in child neglect and domestic violence
- All tax payers, including non-gamblers, would pay higher taxes to foot the casino bills
- Pro-gambling lobbying power would grow within the state
Legalization would open the door for any Indian tribe to “venue shop” for casino property
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