Legalized gambling in the U.S. has been a controversial subject for decades with the Southern States often seeming to be the last bastion of conservatism to the changing face of popular culture. Despite its conservative image, the state of Georgia has already led the way in becoming the new home of Hollywood within the U.S. and now wants to open the door to legalized gambling.
Unlike the decision to open a new Online casino, the plan to open three resort-style casino locations across the state of Georgia would require a change in the laws of the region. Despite the opposition there has always been to enact a major change in an area known as the “buckle of the bible belt”, the presence of Republican State Representative Ron Stephens who was the mastermind of the tax incentives for movie and TV production used in the last decade to make the state the film production capital of the U.S.
The development of three resort-style casinos will be a large investment for the state of Georgia with each complex expected to cost in excess of $1 billion each. The sites of the resorts have yet to be chosen but Rep. Stephens believes one of the resorts should be located in Savannah, Georgia within his own Georgia South district. The other two resorts are expected to be awarded to locations in and around the Metro Atlanta area with many different companies expected to bid to construct and operate the resorts in the coming years. Rep. Stephens expects the legalized gambling push to be developed on the proviso of a minimum of 10,000 jobs created within Georgia by any company bidding for a contract with a minimum investment of $1.2 billion. If the plans for three resorts are approved, Rep. Stephens is expecting a total investment in Georgia of $3.6 billion with more than 30,000 jobs created.
Unlike the development of a new Online casino, the development of the three planned casino resorts will be made with a large amount of political maneuvering being made by all sides of the argument. I order to complete the process of creating a new amendment to the Constitution of Georgia following a referendum of voters to determine whether the plan has the support of the public.
Among the reasons why politicians in Georgia are so eager to pursue new sources of funding is the lack of growth of the HOPE program providing funding for college education using lottery assistance. Voters in Georgia were initially unsure of the introduction of the lottery but have been swayed by the dependence of educational programs on the HOPE program providing more than $9 billion in funding for the public education system. The success of the HOPE program has been both a blessing and a curse with the program estimated to run out of funds by 2028 unless new sources of funding can be uncovered. The plan to extend HOPE to include funds sourced from the creation of the casino resorts will make this one of the most impressive aspects of the push for legalized gambling in Georgia.