Georgia Lawmaker Files Bill That Would Allow Casinos In The State

A second gambling expansion bill was filed in Georgia Tuesday as Rep. Ron Stephens filed HR 30, which would allow citizens to vote on whether casino gambling is legal.

It’s the second gambling bill that Stephens has sponsored after having his name attached to an online sports betting bill that was filed earlier this month at the start of the legislative session. According to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Stephens said he plans to file a third piece of legislation that would legalize horse racing.

If passed, HR 30 would put a question on the ballot in 2022 asking whether voters support bringing casinos to the Peach State. Last December, Stephens told local media that getting expanded gambling passed in 2021 was incredibly likely but did mention that sports betting would be the easiest to pass.

Casino gambling would require an amendment to the state constitution which is why it would require a ballot initiative. With bills that require a constitutional amendment, two-thirds majority is needed in both chambers to get to the governor’s desk. Sports betting, however, could be legalized through the normal legislative process and a simple majority vote.

Like most other states that are looking at expanded gambling, tax revenue is a driving force behind legalization.

“We’re back at trying to backfill the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K, and the destination resorts, along with the tourism piece, is the way to do it,” Stephens told the AJC.

There was growing support for expanded gambling as the 2020 legislative session started, but the pandemic forced lawmakers to rearrange their legislative priorities. At the start of 2020, the president of the Atlanta Motor Speedway drew up a proposal for a $1 billion casino complex on-site.

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