On the road again—Georgia lawmakers just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The law they want you to love allows legally gambling with your friends, and they can’t wait to get on the road again.
But if all goes according to plan, then we may soon see Peach State residents rollin’ down the street, bettin’ freely, sippin’ on gin and juice, and more importantly: Laid back “with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
The Georgia House of Representatives formed the Economic Development Committee—a committee tasked with examining economic issues in communities across the state—earlier this year and began studying ways to generate new tax revenue.
The goal was to avoid raising taxes on residents and find alternatives ways to fund the HOPE scholarship program for college students and bring in new revenue to benefit the individuals and industries who are most in need.
After identifying the problem and researching possible solutions, the House committee members made one potential solution their top priority.
Their solution? Legalize and allow casino gambling, sports betting, and wagering on horse racing in Georgia.
However, in a state that’s deeply rooted in conservative values, the committee members knew that legalizing gambling would be a hard sell to residents.
In a unique effort to draw support for the legalization of the most popular types of gambling, the committee decided to take their case on the road.
“Our intent is to ask the citizens, ‘Do you support inviting this industry to Georgia?’” said Snellville Republican Rep. Brett Harrell before hitting the road, according to Public Broadcasting Atlanta. “If the answer is yes, how do you want us to enable this industry to come to Georgia, so you all get your piece of the pie?”
The statewide “listening tour” began Tuesday, Nov. 19, making Valdosta their first stop. To the committee’s surprise, the majority of local officials and residents supported their proposed solution.
“We have the honor to not only grow the economy in this community but also improve the quality of life through business revenues and the local taxes that we drive. That, in turn, gets spent in our community and benefits our citizens,” said Sandra Roose, with the Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center and Tourism Authority.
Some said even though they don’t support gambling outright, they are in favor of the committee’s proposal to generate billions of dollars in new revenue for Georgia.
“I’m not a proponent of gambling,” said Valdosta Mayor John Gayle. “But I am a proponent of things that would benefit the state.”
Another reason for the committee’s tour is because lawmakers don’t have the power to legalize gambling in the Georgia Assembly.
Instead, a constitutional amendment is required, which means a referendum must be placed on a ballot and receive voter approval.
After gathering enough support, committee members said they hope to place the referendum on the ballot in time for the 2020 general election in November.
Until then, lawmakers will continue their “Legalize Gambling in Georgia 2020” tour, and if you want to attend one of their public meetings, then you won’t have to wait long because they’re already on the road again.