Georgia – House Delays Vote Effectively Killing Bill for 2016 Session

ATLANTA — Proposals to bring casino gambling to Georgia won’t receive a House vote Monday, effectively killing the effort for the 2016 session.

House Speaker David Ralston told members that he had decided to postpone a vote. Monday marked the 30th day of the legislative session; bills must pass at least one chamber by that deadline to remain alive for the year.

Ralston also postponed a floor vote Friday before lawmakers left town for the weekend.

“I asked each of you … to go home and talk to your neighbors, friends and people you go to church with,” Ralston said. “And I have found that the people I have talked with care deeply about the character and image of our state and the faith community felt they had not been heard. I want them to know they have been heard.”

Opponents of the measure argue that casinos could increase crime and bankruptcy in the state, while proponents tout the potential impact on Georgia’s merit-based HOPE scholarship for students at public colleges.

The bill rolled out last week proposed up to four casinos across Georgia, with two in the Atlanta metro area. The proposal would have sent at least 90 percent of casino revenue toward education and increased the percentage of revenue that casinos would pay in taxes compared with earlier proposals.

The changes weren’t enough to convince opponents, including Gov. Nathan Deal.

Deal, a Republican, reiterated Monday that he didn’t believe casinos would “enhance the climate of the state” and said he was concerned the facilities could draw customers away from the state-run lottery that funds the scholarship program.