Georgia faces a budget deficit of over $2 billion for fiscal 2009. States need to have the luxury to run deficit spending and print up paper money to make up for the shortfall. Each year, state budgets should be balanced. Georgia should seriously consider a new revenue stream.
Roger Bruce, a state representative from Atlanta, has announced that he will introduce a bill to allow Georgia voters to decide whether they want to game in Georgia. The bill will let each Georgia county determine if they wish to game. Recent governors and the Georgia Assembly have not supported the idea that Georgia should have casinos. The legislature has yet to allow any gaming proposals to be voted upon in general referendums or other popular votes.
The big question: Should gambling in Georgia be legal?
Answer number one:
Individuals can choose how to spend their income and assets in a free society. Any moral, ethical or biblical sanction should not punish gambling. While some think gambling is a crime, it should not be illegal if it doesn’t lead to force or fraud against another person. In other words, I can use my money for gambling.
Answer number two:
State legislators have already resolved any moral doubts they might have had about gambling. It is already legal in Georgia in one form. Georgia legalized lottery gambling fifteen years ago. To date, it has earned over $15 billion in tax revenue. The fiscal year 2008 sales reached a record $3.5 billion. This is more than the revenue from fiscal 2007. The State of Georgia has been gambling for more than 15 years. Casino gambling is just another type of gambling. Casino gambling is not a monopoly. Instead, private enterprises will operate and own the casinos.
It is not easy for the Georgia General Assembly, with its 15-year history in successful gaming, to reject casino gambling without being hypocritical. However, their history of massive hypocrisy did not stop them.
What about the other states that allow gaming? How has their experience been?
To learn more, I visited the website of the American Gaming Association in Washington, DC.
Nevada is the granddaddy among them all. Gaming began in Nevada in 1931. Since then, gaming tax revenues have comprised a significant portion of the state’s budget. Nevada’s gaming industry had 201,000 employees in 2006; its tax revenues totaled $1.034 billion. Nevada’s budget for 2009 has been set at $6 billion. Gaming revenue accounts for approximately 17% of the state’s total income each fiscal year.
Mississippi legalized gambling in 1990. It was passed through legislation and a local vote—gaming employees number 30,500, with tax revenue totaling $350.44 million in 2006.
Louisiana legalized gambling in 1993. It was passed through legislation and a local vote. Last year, tax revenue was $ 559 million, $68 million more from racetrack casinos, and 20,300 gaming employees.
In 1996, Michigan legalized gambling through statewide referendums, local votes, and legislation. Michigan’s 3 casinos generated $365 million in tax revenue in 2006.
We can see that other states have a long history of success in casino gambling.
The addition of casino gambling to Atlanta and other Georgia cities would be welcome. Las Vegas’s gaming and entertainment offerings have taken away the convention business for many years. Georgia’s hospitality and restaurant sectors would also benefit as they support gaming tourism.
Atlanta has another competitive advantage as a gaming destination…Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is the busiest airport in the world. You can only get to heaven by connecting through Atlanta. Atlanta’s status as a Southern regional transport hub makes it an attractive destination for gaming by the two-thirds of Americans who live east of the Mississippi River.
Georgia’s economy can benefit from casino gambling. I hope the Georgia General Assembly will find the courage and conviction to vote in support of casino gambling during the 2009 Legislative Session.
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