Georgia Republicans Are Divided on Legalizing Gambling in the State

Georgia Republicans Are Divided on Legalizing Gambling in the State

The state of Georgia has been on the verge of passing a resolution in which voters would have their say on whether gambling should be legalized for quite some time now. The most recent efforts proved to be quite fruitful, but the process proved to be equally problematic for the GOP as there was a huge split in the party.

Some Republicans Oppose Legalizing Gambling in Georgia

The new gambling resolution is sponsored by Ron Stephens and it states that gambling would go far beyond the lottery. It would include all forms of gambling and its proponents claim that the industry could bring around $100 million, which will be used to improve educational programs in the state.

However, not every Republican agrees with Stephens and other proponents. Jeanne Seaver, who’s also a Savannah Republican and a candidate for lieutenant governor, is opposing it. She says that the legal gambling industry will destroy Georgia and bring “more division, more destruction, more poverty.”

She added that the legal gambling industry has destroyed and split regions such as New Jersey and Chicago and she doesn’t want the same scenario to happen to Georgia.

Seaver and many other opponents of the resolution are evangelical Christians and they claim that the state should maintain its nostalgic portrait and not allow gambling as it can inflict damage on numerous families and children.

John Kindt, a retired University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor of legal policy and business, also opposes the resolution. He claims that pro-gambling lobbying is hard and that people who advocate for legal gambling are not familiar with the fact that operators can use modern advertising techniques to provoke gambling addiction.

He added that gambling does not create anything other than new bankruptcies, crime, and new addictive gamblers. Kindt also added that proponents claim that legalizing gambling is just entertainment, which is not. “Addicting my grandkids is not a product,” Kidnt said. Gambling presents a social problem according to him.

Kidnt noted that with every dollar that the government gains by taxing operators, $3-$5 are spent on addressing the economic and social costs. 

Sports Teams Embrace Sports Betting, Even If They Previously Opposed It

The Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance, which is a coalition consisting of Atlanta United, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and Atlanta Braves, supports the legalization of sports betting, even though they originally opposed it.

Other proponents claim that regardless if gambling is legalized in Georgia or not, residents will continue to wager, even if the activity is illegal. By legalizing it, they claim that the annual handle can reach as much as $1.5 billion and the tax revenue will be used to sponsor K-12 education and fund scholarships.

Last week, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee voted in favor of Senate Bill 142 and Senate Resolution 135. Senate Resolution 135 is about lifting gambling restrictions from the constitution and Senate Bill 142 would ask voters if they wish to legalize online sports betting.