Georgia is among a decreasing number of states where there are no casinos and no forms of gambling permitted except the lottery. Thus the possibility of Georgia sports betting has had no juice whatsoever, although there’s now movement afoot to build a “racino” (a combination horse racetrack and casino) in suburban Atlanta.
Last week the group behind the idea released a study claiming such a facility could generate an economic impact of up to $1.2 billion. The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition is making a push to get the subject in front of state lawmakers in time for the 2019 legislative session. The study calls for construction of a 300-room hotel, a horse racetrack with pari-mutuel betting, and live-gaming and a slot-machine areas.
There is no specific mention of sports betting in the study, which places most of its focus on the horse racing industry. The study project would cost an estimated $525 million to build. In terms of contribution to the tax base, the study authors assumed a 25% gaming tax.
Georgia May Jump Into Gaming Arena With Racino and Pari-mutuel Betting, Perhaps an Entree Into Sports Wagering Down The Line
The study by the Florida-based Lewis Group Management Consultants projects a range of economic impacts including:
- Creating 4,000 construction jobs;
- Creating 2,225 more permanent jobs;
- Generating $210 million in state and local taxes in the first year; and
- Boosting rural development by introducing new revenues into race purses and breeding programs.
The coalition shared its findings with state legislators and already has a benefactor in the state assembly.
On Wednesday, Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that he intends to share the study with the House Rural Development Council after the current session ends later this month. He’ll work with Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) to introduce a 2019 legislation allowing for three venues across the state.
“This report gives lawmakers a clear vision of what a horse racing facility would contribute to Georgia,” Beach told the Atlanta Business Journal. “We’ll work to pass legislation that enables a horse racing track in Georgia that is one of the nicest in the world.”
Beach has actively been trying to sell casinos and racetracks to his fellow lawmakers for several years, but with no luck.
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In 2017 Beach told the Atlanta Jounral-Constitution he was “not discouraged” by the lack of support, but rather that he would “double-down” his efforts to make gambling legal in Georgia. The Lewis Group study is his latest effort.
Like many other states, Georgia hopes to benefit from the additional tax revenue that gambling would bring to the state. Among the games that could contribute to that revenue is sports betting, which is currently illegal in every state except Nevada.
But the Supreme Court is currently examining Murphy v NCAA, the New Jersey-led case that could overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. PASPA, as it is referred to, is the 1992 law banning full-fledged sports wagering outside Nevada. The Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case in December and a decision is expected some time between April and the end of the court’s current session in late June.
New Jersey would be ready to go with sports betting in shorter order if PASPA gets struck while other states have prepared to legalize sports wagering (if not already) at their state casinos and horse tracks. In fact the first post-PASPA wager on sports outside Nevada is likely to come at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey.
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