The state of Georgia faces a fiscal year 2009 budget deficit of more than $ 2 billion. And states cannot afford to spend on deficits and print paper money to cover the deficit. State budgets must be balanced each year. Therefore, Georgia must seriously consider a new source of income.
State Representative Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) has announced his intention to introduce a bill in the 2009 legislative session to allow voters to decide if they want to play in Georgia. His bill would allow voters in each Georgia county to decide whether or not they wanted to play in their county. The Georgia Assembly and recent governors have been great with the idea of Georgia casinos. But the legislature has never allowed any gambling proposal to be voted on in a general referendum or in any other popular vote.
The big question is: Should gambling be legal in the state of Georgia?
Answer number one: In a free society, individuals are free to use their income and assets in any way they choose. There should be no moral, ethical or even biblical UFABET sanction against gambling. Some people believe that gambling is a sin, but a sin should not become illegal when it does not generate force or fraud against another person. In other words, if I use my money to gamble, it’s my business.
Answer number two: State legislators have already resolved any moral concerns they may have had about gambling. It is already legal here in Georgia in a way. Fifteen years ago, lottery gambling was legalized in Georgia and, to date, it has generated more than $ 15 billion in tax revenue. Sales for fiscal 2008 rose to a record $ 3.5 billion, outpacing revenue generated during fiscal 2007. Therefore, the state of Georgia has already been in the gambling business for more than 15 years. Casino gambling is just another form of gambling. However, with casino gambling, the state will not have a monopoly, but the private company will own and operate the casinos.
With a 15-year history of successful gaming under its belt, it will be difficult enough for the Georgia General Assembly to reject casino games without exhibiting massive hypocrisy. But massive hypocrisy hasn’t stopped them in the past.
But what about other states where gambling is legal? What has been your experience?
To find out, I went to the website of the American Gaming Association in Washington, DC.
In Nevada, everyone’s grandfather, where gambling began in 1931, tax revenue from gambling has been a large chunk of the state budget. In 2006, Nevada gambling had 201,000 employees and tax revenue was $ 1.034 billion. Nevada’s 2009 budget is set at $ 6 billion, so gaming revenue accounts for about 17% of that state’s total revenue each year.
Mississippi legalized gambling in 1990, passed by legislation and a local option vote. There are 30,500 gaming employees and the tax revenue for 2006 was $ 350.44 million.
Louisiana legalized gambling in 1993, passed by legislation and a local option vote. Tax revenue last year was $ 559 million, another $ 68 million from racetrack casinos, with 20,300 gaming employees.
Michigan legalized gambling in 1996 through a statewide referendum, local option vote, and legislation. Michigan has 3 casinos that generated tax revenue in 2006 of $ 365 million.
So we see here that other states have a long history of success with casino gambling.
Casino gambling would be a welcome addition to the convention business in Atlanta and other Georgia cities. Las Vegas has been stealing the convention business for years with its gaming and entertainment attractions. Georgia’s hospitality and catering industries would also receive a business infusion as they support gaming tourism.
Atlanta has another competitive advantage as a gaming destination … Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the busiest airport in the world. It’s been said that you can’t even get to heaven without connecting through Atlanta. Our presence as a southern regional transportation hub makes Atlanta an easy gambling destination for the two-thirds of the US population who live east of the Mississippi River.
Casino gambling can be a valuable addition to Georgia’s economy. I hope that the Georgia General Assembly can find its courage and conscience and vote in favor of casino gambling in the 2009 Legislative Session.