January will mark the sixth consecutive legislative session in which a gambling proposal has been advanced if Georgia Senator Brandon Beach is to be believed, as he is reportedly bringing another gaming measure before the legislature.
Senator Rolls the Dice
State Senator Brandon Beach attempted to add a sports betting amendment to a bill during the last legislative session but it never went through. Every year, new gambling measures arise and every year they die in the Georgia legislature. It’s just the way it is and seems as though it has been for as long as Georgia’s been growing peaches.
But 2024 will signal a presidential election, which means there will be greater turnout at the polls and conceivably more support for a Georgia betting bill. Beach intends to put a comprehensive gaming bill in front of the voters that will ask them if they want to legalize sports betting, allow pari-mutuel betting on horse races, and how they feel about casinos in the state.
The taxes collected would go to the following destinations according to Beach’s proposal:
- 50% of the funds would go toward infrastructure projects.
- Rural healthcare (20%)
- Mental health services (20%)
- Historically Black colleges and universities in Georgia (10%)
Beach insists his proposal is open for discussion and has not ruled anything out. He is eager to engage in a conversation with anyone who will even remotely support a sports betting or gaming bill.
“I’m all for sports betting, but I will tell you from an economic development [and] job creation standpoint, sports betting is done through this,” Beach, R-Alpharetta, said during the committee hearing, noting that 38 states nationwide allow sports betting. “From a job creation standpoint, if we would have three destination resort casinos and one pari-mutuel track or maybe two, we would create a lot of jobs.”
The Economic Potential
Beach believes casinos would not only create jobs but drive tourism to the Peach State, which will provide an economic boost to local and state tax coffers.
“One of the things we do lack here in the metro Atlanta area is any nighttime activity,” Beach added. “So, we’ve got to figure out how we do that.”
Representative Tremaine “Teddy” Reese has also hopped aboard the Georgia gaming gravy train. “We see this as a potential economic development boom that we need in west central Georgia right now to bring in jobs, to bring in quality entertainment,” said Reese.
The familiar refrain we have seen time and again is the notion of citizens crossing the border to wager in neighboring states that have legalized sports betting and watching those tax dollars go to them instead of keeping it for themselves.
Reese has noticed and said, “Every other weekend, I see busloads of Georgians leaving our state, going to Alabama, going to Biloxi, Mississippi, to contribute to their economic development and growth, when we can be keeping these dollars right here in Georgia.
“This is not just about economic development. But this is about sustaining who we are as a state and helping us move forward. So, I look forward to the continued conversation. But most importantly, I look forward to allowing the people of Georgia to decide,” added Reese.