Lawmaker: committee to vote on casino gambling Monday

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A hearing on a proposal to add two casino gambling resorts to Georgia has been rescheduled for Monday, according to the bill's sponsor.

Senator Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, responded to rumors Thursday that a meeting about his bill had been canceled because it did not have enough votes to move forward.

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"The devil's in the details and we had to have the details in that not only in the enabling legislation, but in the Constitutional Amendment for everybody to feel comfortable voting yes," Beach explained.

Beach has filed two pieces of legislation that both need to pass in order for the state to allow casinos. The "Destination Resort Act" spells out the required qualifications for the resorts as well as how it the state will oversee them. A second bill would put the issue on the ballot for voters to approve as a Constitutional Amendment.

Beach believes casinos would be an economic boost to the state. Georgia would collect 20 percent in taxes, which would be divided between the HOPE Scholarship, a new needs-based scholarship, rural healthcare, rural broadband, trauma care, law enforcement and substance abuse resources.

In recent years, similar plans have drawn sharp criticism, particularly from faith-based groups, who oppose gambling.

"This about economic development and jobs and a lot of money invested in the state," said Sen. Beach. "Quite frankly, we already have gaming here. $4 billion was spent last year on the lottery."

Some in the entertainment industry also oppose the bill because it allows casino resorts to add entertainment venues of up to 3,500 seats.

"[Casinos] often overpay artists that come to their communities by two or three times, which then performing arts centers such as the FOX or the Woodruff or Cobb Energy Center or the River Center cannot compete," said Allan Vella, president of the Fox Theatre.

Beach, however, believes his proposal will only draw more acts to the state.

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