The passing of Senate Bill 79, a bill that would authorize the licensing of up to two casino destination resorts in the state of Georgia, has been ruled out for 2017 according to Senator Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta.
The bill, which would essentially open the door for the legalization of casinos in Georgia, has been watched over the past few months at World Casino Index, but it appears as if this story will be coming to a close for 2017. On Monday, February 27th, Senate Bill 79 failed to even pass the first step of the process. Beach admits it simply did not have the votes to get out of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
The Georgia Legislative Navigator puts the bill at only a seven percent chance of passing. Despite having the odds stacked so greatly against him, Beach told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he’s not discouraged. “I will double down and plan to crisscross the state starting in April,” he continued in reference to his hopes to gain more support for the bill in 2018.
Beach had originally planned the construction of up to six casinos and a horse racing track that would be the first of its kind in the state of Georgia. Unfortunately, reshaping the bill to allow for two destination casinos did not help to stanch the significant opposition.
Beach even suggested that establishing the two casinos could generate up to $450 million for the state annually and has the potential to create almost 5,000 jobs. However, the generation of this revenue was not enough to pass the first step in the process.
Senate Bill 79 would even levy a 20 percent tax on the two casinos in order to raise money for education and health care in the state. Starting in April, Beach will begin campaigning by visiting local Rotary clubs. He will also address the two beneficiaries of the 20 percent tax: education leaders and hospital administrators.
Various locations were proposed for the possible construction of the casino resorts, namely Fulton, Dekalb, Clayton, Cobb or Gwinnet. The second location would be located within a 30-mile radius of a large convention center in Macon, Columbus, Savannah or Augusta. Representative Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, openly spoke out against the bill claiming that despite having no moral problems with it that he has personally seen the negative effects it can have on the surrounding areas.
Friday, March 3rd is the deadline for all bills and in order to have any hope for 2017 the bill will have to make up a lot of ground. In order to achieve his goal of passing this bill for even 2018, Beach must convince the staggering opposition of religious organizations that are so prevalent in the state of Georgia.