Only 20 states and two territories have allowed commercial casinos on their land. However, one of those states is not Georgia. They're gearing up for a huge debate over whether or not to change the rules and regulations, and allow casinos to come in. This is going to be a hot button issue that goes well into 2016, and perhaps beyond.
A committee got together three times in the past few months to hear from people on both sides and they'll report on their findings before the legislature reconvenes on January 11. As is typically the case, there are arguments for both sides.
On one hand, some are concerned about locals getting addicted to the gaming and losing their hard-earned money. That opposition has been steadily flowing from groups like the Faith and Freedom Coalition, who advertised with flyers that stated casinos cause addiction and crime.
On the flip side, many feel that casinos would create jobs, attract tourism and bring in plenty of money for the state in terms of tax revenues.
MGM has put forth a proposal that includes a $1 billion project for the city of Atlanta. That would include a big infusion of entertainment, restaurants and other revenue streams for the state. MGM isn't the only gaming company looking to get into Georgia as the Boyd Gaming Corporation as well as Penn National Gaming are also keeping close tabs on the regulations. They figure to be MGM's biggest competition if the doors are opened.
As of right now there is only a state-run lottery in Georgia but people are going to casinos on native lands to get their fix as well as going out of state to play with options as close as North Carolina and Florida. Many people are seeing this and are thinking that all of this revenue could be going to the state of Georgia.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal looks like he's not too excited about the deal; he'll be looking for a higher tax rate to reconsider. Keep an eye on this debate in 2016 as Georgia weighs their options.