Should Georgia expand gambling to include casinos and horse racing?

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Georgia has yet to expand legal gambling beyond the lottery, but that isn't stopping a three-day parade of representatives from the world's
gaming industry from pitching their businesses to state lawmakers.month recommend casino
One after another, operators of casinos and representatives from the horse racing industry told a panel of lawmakers on Tuesday why they
thought Georgia needs to allow their business to come to the state.
Legislators will get an even bigger earful Wednesday and Thursday.House
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brett Harrell, who is one of a trio of
chairmen overseeing a House panel tasked with examining the economic
benefits of allowing gambling in the state, said the meetings won't
focus on whether Georgia should expand gaming.
The committee's focus is not to debate issues on whether or not a specific industry ought to be welcome into the state," the Snellville
Republican said. "Our focus is to compare impacts to existing business
and quality of life as we look at new industries, new revenue streams
(and) new investment in the state of Georgia."
Various gambling bills have struggled to gain traction in recent years in the Georgia Legislature.Representatives from Wynn Resorts,
Atlanta Motor Speedway, the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition and others
touted gaming success stories in other states.Over the next two days,
representatives from more casinos, technology companies that offer
sports betting and professional sports teams are expected to speak as
Virginia Galloway, a lobbyist for the Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, said it felt as though Tuesday's meeting was a series of
sales pitches. But, Galloway said, she believes expanding gaming will
lead to a rise in Georgians with gambling addictions and financial
problems, and attract criminal activity around casinos and horse tracks.
"Georgia is too good a place for us to expand gambling further," she said. "If you look at the states that allow it, those are not states we
want to be like."Georgia senators also are studying the potential
economic impact of expanding gambling, which supporters say would bring
thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the
Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.
Supporters for years have pushed the idea, but a recent call from Gov. Brian Kemp to cut state spending has renewed interest in finding
new ways for the state to earn money.Adding horse racing or casino
gambling in the state would require Georgians to approve a
constitutional amendment allowing the expansion.
Getting a constitutional amendment through the General Assembly is a heavy lift. Two-thirds of each chamber would have to approve sending an
amendment to voters.Kemp has said that while he opposes casino gambling,
he will not stand in the way of putting an amendment before voters as
long as it guarantees the revenue will benefit HOPE.
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