Although the state of Georgia has sponsored gambling in the form of a lottery for more than 20 years, the GOP state committee recently passed a resolution opposing gambling. Proponents have said casino tax revenue would bring in additional money for the financially challenged HOPE scholarship program. However, the resolution noted, “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.”
The resolution also stated gambling leads to societal problems such as increased divorce, crime, prostitution, job loss, bankruptcy, child neglect and domestic violence. Furthermore, it forecast that allowing Class III gambling would encourage Indian tribes to “venue shop” for acreage to build casinos, removing that land from state control and local taxation.
In the last legislative session, state Senator Brandon Beach introduced a measure calling for two “destination resort” casinos requiring a $2 million private investment and a 20 percent casino tax rate for HOPE and rural health care. The resolution stated that and other bills hid “negative connotations of casino gambling by referring to casinos euphemistically as “destination resorts.”
Beach said, “I have the utmost respect for the Republican Party and the state committee. But there’s nothing more conservative or more Republican than letting the voters have a say at the ballot box and vote on an issue.”
GOP state committee Chairman John Watson recused himself from the vote on the resolution, since he worked as a lobbyist for Boyd Gaming, advocating legalized gambling.