Barely a day after we discussed a published report which outlined why legalizing casinos in Georgia might not be such a good idea, two well-known casino proponents were seen meeting with the governor’s chief of staff. Though the three could have been simply talking sports or about their personal lives, there are plenty of people who think the conversation had something to do with the idea of legalizing casinos.
State Senator Brandon Beach and Representative Ron Stephens were seen on Thursday walking into Chris Riley’s office in Marietta. Who is Chris Riley? Well, for those who might not be from Georgia, he is most widely known as being Governor Nathan Deal’s chief of staff. So while Riley himself may not have official political pull, he is constantly in the ear of the governor. As such, the opinions and feelings he holds may very well be representative of the same feelings and opinions held by the governor.
Mr. Beach and Mr. Stephens are known as Senator and Representative, respectively, however they are known by anyone familiar with Georgian law as two of the state’s biggest proponents of increasing the scope of legalized gambling in the state. More specifically, these two lawmakers are wanting to see resort casinos and pari-mutuel betting legalized. This is no secret and has been a battle they have been fighting for years now’ albeit with limited success.
For a little more insight into the gambling laws and the state of the legalization fight, it must be noted that Governor Nathan Deal has made it clear that he is opposed to legalizing casino-style gambling. With that much being said, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Deal has made it clear that if a referendum vote was submitted to the state and voters approved legalizing casinos, he would not do anything to veto that measure. So while Deal is starkly opposed to legalizing a wider scope of gambling, he is willing to let the voices of the state decide what they prefer.
Though any discussion with regard to what Stephens, Beach, and Riley actually talked about is nothing more than speculation, you would be interested to know that the meeting occurred only a few hours after a report was published stating that legalized casinos in Georgia might be more of a pain to deal with than they are worth.
What we do know at this point is that 2017 is going to be an interesting year as far as the fight to legalize casino gambling in Georgia is concerned. There are so many states, especially those in close proximity to Georgia, who are moving to make casinos more accessible to residents, and it seems as though the restrictive days of Georgian law are numbered. With that being said, the state of Georgia is known for being overly Conservative, so it would not be much of a surprise to see any and all legalization efforts crash and burn before they were able to get very far.