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Is a Casino Like This in Atlanta's Future?

December 2,2016

Source: Scott Trubey, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"State lawmakers at a Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association luncheon this month said they expect a fight in the General Assembly over how casino revenue would be spent when the debate resumes in January.

State Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, said funding for needs-based college aid would be critical to earn her support.

“There is a real need that we can meet,” she said in an interview. “It hurts the students, universities and the economy when students have to leave school over a thousand or even a few hundred dollars.”

Under last session’s bill, tax revenue from gambling would have paid for HOPE scholarships and pre-k programs. One projection said six casinos with a 12 percent tax rate on gambling revenue would generate more than $280 million per year for HOPE programs and at least 10,900 jobs statewide.

Maryland collects more than half of casino revenues left over after payouts to winners in taxes. Ohio, another state that recently legalized Las Vegas-style gambling, collects about one-third.

A study commissioned by Central Atlanta Progress this year tempered some of rosy industry projections, finding that while casinos could help generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue, it was unclear how much would be new to the state and how much would be created by spending diverted from other parts of the economy.

The report by hospitality consultants HLT Advisory and Horwath ATL concluded that the majority of visitors would be locals, not tourists, and that spending in casinos could “cannibalize” spending that might have gone to nearby restaurants, museums or concert halls and in turn undercut other state and local tax collections.

But the report also estimated that Georgians spend about $570 million annually in casinos out of state, far more than prior projections."

Read the complete article at the link above.