We have already been closely following the status of Senate Bill 79 in Georgia. For anyone who may be unaware, Senate Bill 79 represents Georgia’s newest and best hope at cultivating a brick and mortar casino industry. Senator Brandon Beach is behind the Bill, and is actively looking to garner up more support.
This week, the Bill will face some critical examination from the other members of the State Senate. Though no official vote is set to accompany this batch of questioning, it will represent a good opportunity for Beach to pull some folks off of the fence and onto his side.
As it stands right now, the Bill, if approved, would pave the way for the existence of 2 “destination resorts.” In essence, the Bill’s use of “destination resorts” is a nice way of saying that the sites will be more than standalone casinos, and will instead be resort casinos, equipped with endless amenities and other features.
Right now, those 2 prospective casino resorts are set to be constructed in two counties with a combined population of just over 1 million people. Basically, one casino is going to be made for a county of more than 750,000 people, while the second will need to be in a county of at least 250,000. Right off the bat, it is curious why these locations were chosen ahead of the city of Atlanta, which has well over 1 million residents by itself.
Understanding this, Beach has announced a change to the bill. Instead of mandating a total population of 250,000, that number was lowered to 200,000 so that lawmakers from places like Columbus and Savannah do not feel left out in the cold.
As was previously discussed, the real mechanism by which Beach is going to gain support is by showing how the casino properties would benefit the state. According to Beach’s plan, all revenue brought in by the gaming sites would be taxed at a rate of 20%. Out of that total tax, 70% of the funds would go towards supporting a scholarship program that aims aid at low-income families so that children can receive a quality education, and a quality higher education.
Beach has now changed the plan for taxation, too. Instead of 70% of the 20% tax going to the HOPE scholarship fund, Beach announced that only 50% will go towards the scholarship. The other 20% is going to go directly to helping support rural health care. For those who may not be aware, Georgia is a large state with vast expanses of rural areas. Being that this is the case, there are plenty of people who are not located close to quality medical care. This is a string Beach is hoping to play, and one that he is hoping will gain more support for himself and the Bill he is promoting.
Through the first month of the year or so in Georgia, we have already seen some progress made as it relates to establishing a brick and mortar casino industry. We will continue paying close attention to this situation as it unfolds. In all honesty, though, it really does appear as though the idea of brick and mortar gambling in Georgia is one that is beginning to gain some momentum.