Georgia House panel wants voters to have say on gambling

March 11, 2020 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — A proposal that would give Georgia voters a say in whether to allow casinos and other forms of gambling in the state has passed a state House committee.

House Resolution 378 would ask voters whether the state Constitution should be amended to allow “all forms of betting, bingo games, raffles, and gambling” and create the Georgia Gaming Commission to regulate the industry.

The legislation was approved by the House Regulated Industries Committee on Wednesday morning. It could soon move to the full House for more debate, though it faces a tight timeline to advance. Thursday is a legislative deadline by which bills must generally pass out of one chamber or the other to remain alive for the session.

Committee Chairman Rep. Alan Powell, a Republican from Hartwell, said funds raised from sports betting would be directed to education while other funds would go toward health care.

The legislation follows a House study committee that looked at the proposition in 2019.

Democratic Rep. Al Williams of Midway, who participated in the study committee, said gambling could give the state a significant economic boost.

“We are 180 strong,” Williams said, referring to the number of lawmakers in the Georgia House. “There are 11 million Georgians out there. Let them have the last say.”

Mike Griffin, a lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, spoke out against the legislation and said that allowing gambling in Georgia would negatively impact communities.