In a somewhat unexpected move, the Georgia Republican Party passed a resolution this weekend condemning casino gambling legislation. The casino gambling issue was one of several resolutions leftover from the state GOP convention on June 2nd. The chairman’s race, which contained 4 different candidates and required multiple ballots, ran late into the afternoon, preventing any further business. The newly elected chairman, John Watson, convened a committee to address the unfinished business. That committee met this weekend. The AJC is reporting that the committee passed the resolution “overwhelmingly.”
Watson, a former lobbyist for casino gambling legislation in the state, was viewed by conservatives with a great deal of skepticism. Some members of the GOP expected the committee to bury the resolution and avoid any potential embarrassment for Watson’s former employers. The chairman recused himself for the vote, and the resolution passed.
I must admit, John Watson’s ties to casino gambling did make me a bit uneasy at first. The 11th hour sheenanigans last session to quietly revive casino gambling made a lot of conservatives question the integrity of the process. What lengths would special interests go to legalize casinos in Georgia? I will be the first to say, Chairman Watson earned a great deal of respect in my eyes for his handling of the resolution. Putting this issue behind us should allow the Ga GOP to focus on fundraising and organization for the 2018 elections. I just hope the legislature takes notice. The full text of the resolution is provided below.
WHEREAS, Georgia Republican legislators have introduced legislation that would allow for casino gambling in Georgia; and
WHEREAS, the gambling bills now mask the negative connotations of casino gambling by referring to casinos euphemistically as “destination resorts”; and
WHEREAS, the usual arguments for opening the state to casino and horse racing continue to be, “this will create jobs” and “it is for the children” because it will generate revenue for Pre- K and for the HOPE scholarship, and
WHEREAS, these reasons fail to overcome the substantial societal costs of casino and horse racing, which include:
- because gamblers are twice as likely to divorce as non- gamblers,
- an increase in local crime by at least ten percent within five years or less after the establishment of a casino, including an increase in prostitution;
- local job loss because local citizens change their spending habits,
- an increase in bankruptcies, and
- an increase in child neglect and domestic violence; and
WHEREAS, the proposed establishment of the gambling industry in Georgia violates free- market principles by instituting a politically protected industry that will drain customers from legitimate businesses not similarly protected; and
WHEREAS, once the gambling industry is allowed to operate legally in the state, its lobbying power will grow and increase its influence over legislators and local community officials; and
WHEREAS, once the State of Georgia allows Class III gambling, this would open the door for any Indian tribe to “venue shop” for property to open casinos on land that would be taken out of the governance of the State and off the local tax digest; and
WHEREAS, the State should not have a vested interest in predatory activities such as gambling for the sake of filling State coffers at the expense of ruined lives and broken families;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, We, the delegates of Georgia Republican Convention, urge the members of the Georgia Legislature to cease and desist with any efforts to open the State of Georgia to casino and horse racing;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Secretary of Georgia Republican Party Convention is directed to immediately transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to the Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and to all elected Republican officials in the Georgia Senate and in the Georgia House; to the Honorable Nathan Deal, Governor of the State of Georgia, the Honorable Casey Cagle, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Georgia; and to the Honorable David Ralston, Speaker of the House of Representatives.