Georgia GOP Shuts Door on Casinos

The state of Georgia has seen efforts to legalize casino style gambling for years now, but in recent years that effort has seen a revived push of sorts. With more states and regions opening their arms to legalized gambling, proponents in Georgia saw now as the best time to start really pushing. For a while after the turn of the New Year there were a good number of people who were under the impression that gambling in Georgia might soon become a reality.

Unfortunately for proponents of legalized gambling in Georgia, these efforts may have been dealt a major blow. Over the weekend, it was announced that Georgia’s GOP state committee overwhelmingly passed a measure that was in stark opposition to legalized gambling, including casino gambling.

An Unexpected Turn of Events

For a long while, it seemed as though the push to legalize gambling in Georgia was really gaining some traction. Over the weekend, however, Georgia’s conservative roots shown through over the weekend. What was especially interesting was the fact that chair of the Georgia GOP, John Watson, recused himself from the vote that took place this past Saturday.

The recusal itself was interesting because Watson has long been a vocal supporter of legalized online gambling. In the end, however, even Watson’s vote would not have been enough to undo the resolution’s passing. An overwhelming majority made its collective voice heard, and the rest of the country gained ample perspective of just how far Georgia might be from legalized casino-style gambling.

Interesting Reasoning

A major theme of the passed resolution was why, exactly, those who voted in favor were in favor in the first place. For one, the resolution touted the increase in crime as one of their major concerns. With placed like Atlanta already home to plenty of crime, lawmakers viewed the addition of a casino—or multiple casinos—as something that would not do much in the way of decreasing crime.

What’s more, and perhaps more interestingly, the report cited an increase in divorce rates as another reason why legalized gambling was not something the state needed. As you are well aware, the Republican party is all about family values, and if the legalization of a certain activity is believed to infringe on those values, it will have a tough time being approved. The resolution went on to say, quite plainly, that the state government should not have a “vested interest” in something that does not serve the public good, and is instead viewed as being predatory.

Yet one more interesting facet of this whole story and situation is that the resolution made no mention of fantasy sports. Thanks to State Representative Trey Kelley, who was instrumental in getting anti-Daily Fantasy Sports language removed from the passed resolution, DFS are still considered to be wholly legal in the state. In a statement, Kelley said, “The Georgia GOP faithful made a conscious decision to remove fantasy sports from this resolution. Their action is in line with my repeated statements and the beliefs of mainstream Georgians that fantasy sports is a game of skill and a completely different issue from casino gambling.”
For now, the push to legalize gambling in Georgia will have to be put on hold.