Efforts to authorize casino gambling in the state of Georgia appear to have gone down to defeat for at least another year after legislators failed to drum up sufficient support.
On Monday, state Senator Brandon Beach (pictured) told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that his SB79 legislation, which would have authorized construction of two casinos in the state, lacked the votes to get out of the Regulated Industries Committee.
Previous bills had sought to approve up to six gaming venues, but Beach’s most recent effort reduced this to two: one major ‘destination resort’ in the Atlanta area – requiring a minimum investment of $2b – and a second smaller facility elsewhere in the state. But opposition, particularly from the state’s religious organizations, remained high.
Striking a defiant tone, Beach told the AJC that he was “not discouraged” and that he would “double down” and “crisscross the state starting in April” to drum up support for yet another casino legislative push in 2018. Despite the setback, Beach managed to maintain a sense of humor, saying “tell everyone, like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, ‘I’ll be back.’”
SB79 had been scheduled for a vote in the Regulated Industries Committee last Thursday but the chairman advised committee members late Wednesday that the hearing wouldn’t take place.
Friday marks the deadline by which legislation must be approved by at least one chamber in order to remain on the year’s legislative docket. A companion casino bill remains alive in the state House, where Beach believes there is more support for legal casino gambling, but without the Senate on board legislators will see little point in pursuing a vote other than as a symbolic gesture.
Georgia’s untapped casino market had been of interest to a number of casino operators, including MGM Resorts, which had actively pitched the state on a major facility in Atlanta that would “provide a nexus between entertainment, hospitality and gaming.”