In a bid to get the ball rolling on legalized gambling in Georgia, law makers in favor of the practice have submitted a new round of legislation to the state senate.
The back-and-forth of legalized gaming in the southern US has been a long-running one, heated intensely by conservative bases and fervently religious populations. The debate will again no doubt reach a boiling point as new legislation is set to hit the senate floor next week.
A measure was submitted last year in an attempt to soften the resistance to online gaming in the region, only to be met with a swift failure. The initial document requested an amendment to the state’s constitution to allow for six Class-III gambling establishments, with one additional such venue for the City of Atlanta.
This newly re-worked bill has pro-gaming law makers optimistic this time around. Georgia House Representative, Ron Stephens, offered a remark from the republican side of the floor in regard to the odds of the legislation passing would be, “better than last year.” However, the issue is still far from the highest concern on the states itinerary, with education and health issues taking precedent.
Gaming operators are looking closely at the region, for if the bill passes it could open up new territory to established operators from not just the US but around the world. Legalized gaming in Georgia could spell big money for the state in terms of tax revenue, jobs for local citizens, and investments from developers.
Casey Cagle, Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor didn’t see much momentum for the bill in early stages, but conceded that things could change rapidly for the legislation at any time. Republican leader Stephens further added his optimism with his prediction that, “this year we’re probably going to have a vote.”
How Does It Compare to Previous Iterations?
The new bill differs from the previous submissions in that it requests the state only allow provisions for two casinos. Additionally it allows for increasing the previous tax rate from 8% to 20%, with funds earmarked specifically for educational development and programs. Scholarships for need-based applicants as well as Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) programs stand to receive funds derived from casino tax revenues under the revised draft of the bill.
Current Georgia Gaming Laws
As it stands today, gambling in Georgia is an illegal and punishable offense that can land a guilty party a misdemeanor conviction. Participation in such acts can range from running an illegal gambling venue, receiving or forwarding wagering offers, or being a custodian of betting activity for any personal gain.
Should legalized gaming legislation pass, the language would still need to be fine-tuned, but ultimately anyone of age would be able to participate in games of chance for profit in designated gambling places, as defined in the Georgia code: 16-12-20.
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