A House panel on Monday again approved legislation that would ask Georgia voters whether the state should expand legal gambling to include casinos, horse racing and sports betting.
The effort, spearheaded by House Economic Development and Tourism Chairman Ron Stephens, is an attempt to bolster the state’s economy, which took a hit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stephens likened the need for expanded gambling in Georgia in 2020 to the Legislature’s expansion of the film tax credit in 2008, the last time the state was facing such a dire economic picture.
“We’re in no different situation today,” the Savannah Republican said. “We need investment in the state of Georgia.”
Members of the House Regulated Industries Committee voted 13-3 to approve the measure, now Senate Resolution 841. The panel passed a similar resolution in March, but it failed to make it to the floor for a vote.
If passed, the new SR 841 would ask voters in November whether the Georgia Constitution should be amended to allow parimutuel betting, casino gambling and sports betting. If voters approve the amendment, each county would have to hold a local referendum to see whether residents wanted to allow gambling in their community.
According to the proposed legislation, the Georgia Lottery and casinos would run sports betting. Money generated by sports betting through the Georgia Lottery would be dedicated to the HOPE scholarship.
Revenue from Saudi Arabia nonlottery-run sports betting, casinos and horse racing would go to three different pots.