Sneaky Underhanded General Assembly

Casinos in Georgia

I had warned that this would be coming, and as of late this afternoon (3/11/20), it appears to be happening.  There was a House Resolution introduced February 26 LAST YEAR that had not been touched since.  Now, at the last possible minute, I hear it popped out of committee TODAY and will be voted on by the House Tomorrow.

It is House Resolution 378, and here is the title:

Georgia Gaming Commission; all forms of betting, bingo games, raffles, and gambling shall be permitted

This failed years ago because citizens rallied against it.  So the sneaky Georgia General Assembly (and I don’t have confirmation yet on who exactly was involved) sprung it on us so we had no time to learn about it and contact our Representatives.  Why?  Money.  And as I write this, at 10 pm Wednesday night, it doesn’t even show up on the legislative calendar for tomorrow.

This Resolution would not make casinos legal immediately but would place a measure on the ballot in November.  While that sounds good, giving us a chance to vote on it and all, it is not – ballot referendums like this almost always pass because we assume our Legislators have done their homework and decided that the issue is a good one.  In this case, it is the exact opposite.  We can also count on the casino industry to outspend anyone opposed by about 200 to 1 when it comes to getting information out.  Which side will win that battle?

It is easy to find articles like this one in the Atlantic (titled A Good Way to Wreck a Local Economy: Build Casinos) about what was happening in 2015.  It has some excellent links to other studies that show how casinos can destroy the area around them.  Any economic impacts tend to deteriorate over time and end up harming lower-income citizens.

There are also moral considerations, especially in a state trying desperately to combat sex trafficking.  Those negatives include not only behavioral problems associated with gambling but also other individual, family, social and economic problems.

All of this info is easy to find online, and it would have been nice if our Legislators had given us some time to get involved in the process.  But, as is frequently the case, money wins over morality.

By the time you read this, it will probably be too late.  The Legislators involved planned it that way.  But if by some miracle you stumble across this before the vote on Thursday, March 12, please contact your House Member and ask them to vote ‘no’ so we have time to find out what is going on.