A plan for legalization of casino gambling could fund a 30 percent cut in property taxes, state Rep. Al Williams told the Liberty County Commission Thursday.
Williams is a member of a committee named by House Speaker David Ralston to study how gambling should be regulated if--that’s if--it gets through the General Assembly and a statewide vote.
Williams said he does not gamble, but constituents are saying, “Let us vote.” At the end of his presentation he asked the commissioners for their support in putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot for a statewide vote. The commissioners agreed and plan to adopt a formal resolution at their Jan. 7 regular meeting.
Williams, a member of the Liberty County Development Authority, said he had brought a site selection consultant to Liberty County, “and he’s happy.” Williams said Liberty County is a serious contender because of the availability of land near I-95.
Williams said a “non-Atlanta” site for a resort destination, a euphemism for casinos, would produce an estimated 2,200 permanent jobs. Williams said studies show crime rates go down around casino locations and, “These people have deep pockets; they are not asking for any tax abatements.”
Williams said people like him who don’t gamble go to casinos for the food, the entertainment . . . “and there’s no better place for people watching.”
Williams is a Baptist deacon and said he had been asked how he could support gambling. His reply, he said, was that he had much rather see gambling than see hunger.
“The people of Georgia need an opportunity to choose,” he said.
Williams said polling for regulated gambling in Georgia showed from 75 percent to 90 percent were in favor.
The I-95/Highway intersection is in the city limits of Midway; Williams said, “I can’t see Midway officials saying no,”
Gambling, horse racing and sports betting as well as casinos, makes annual appearances in the Georgia General Assembly but has never mustered the votes needed in the House and the Senate. A two-thirds vote in each chamber is required to propose a constitutional amendment.
At least 30 lobbyists are reported pushing gambling in advance of the General Assembly session starting next month.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says he is opposed to casino gambling but will not act to keep the people from voting on the issue. Revenue from gambling, Kemp says, would have to go to Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program.