House committee backs casino gambling in Georgia

House committee backs casino gambling in GeorgiaThe constitutional amendment, House Resolution 807, would ask voters in a statewide ballot this fall whether to allow casinos in the state. If it’s approved, voters in each region would then decide if they want a casino in their area.

Meanwhile, under a new version of House Bill 677, the casino tax rate would increase to 20% from the original 12% proposal. At least 90% of the tax would go toward education, including the HOPE Scholarships program.

The number of casinos has also been reduced from six to four, with primary and secondary venues to be located in the metro Atlantia region and the two in other parts of Georgia.

The bill, if passed, would rename the Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) as the Georgia Lottery and Gaming Commission, which would oversee casino operations.

Companies interested in the primary location would be required to make a minimum investment of $1.25 billion. For the secondary casino, bidders are required to invest at least $750 million. The two casinos outside Atlanta would require a minimum investment of $400 million.

MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said his company would be interested in a downtown resort and casino, adding that Atlanta could support a $1b project that could generate 3,000 to 4,000 temporary construction jobs and 4,000 to 5,000 permanent jobs. Murren also added that Atlanta is well positioned to support a major casino resort with the presence of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the Georgia World Congress Center.

HOPE is currently being funded by the state lottery but has struggled to keep pace with demand. The primary sponsor of the amendment and enabling bill, Rep. Ron Stephens, said the scholarship has dwindled from 100% funding to 70% and casino gambling would fill that gap.

The committee’s approval means the bill will reach the House floor for a vote before a key deadline on Monday for bills to pass at least one legislative chamber,

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February 26, 2016: posted in News And Reviews No Comments

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