Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams supports legalizing casinos and sports betting in Georgia as part of her economic plan.
Gambling in Georgia does not come down to just a bill and a signature, though. Peach State voters would have to approve any gambling expansion by a two-thirds threshold at the voting booth.
Of course, Abrams has to win her rematch with incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp first. Kemp leads Abrams by an average of 4.2 points in polls, according to RealClearPolitics.
What Abrams said about Georgia sports betting
Abrams backs the legalization of casinos and sports betting to increase and expand funding for educational programs. Those programs, such as the HOPE Scholarship, are funded by profits from the Georgia Lottery.
Her comments on gaming start around the 22:00 minute mark of the “Georgia Thrives” address:
“[Casinos and sports betting] will serve as a permanent source of revenue to underwrite broader access to education. We can afford it and we must do it. Studies project that the potential for billions exist in economic impact. Funds that will not only finance not our plans to replenish and expand the HOPE Scholarship.
“… We have the ability to help more students, we simply won’t spend the money. But If we bolstered these funds with the expected revenue from gaming, we can turbocharge higher education and economic opportunity for all of Georgia’s students. Including those with ‘C’ averages because you should still be able to ‘C’ your way to college.”
Republican pol predicted approach in 2020
Republican Rep. Ron Stephens has been heavily involved in sports betting legislation in recent years. He told LSR in 2020 he thought this might be in a Democratic playbook for 2022.
“Those on the other side are leaning toward holding these issues, and I mean all of these issues as far as gambling, until the next gubernatorial election so that they can serve it up on a silver platter for an enormous amount of votes,” Stephens said. “I gotta hand it to them: that’s smart if they’re going that direction.”
That year, negotiations on sports betting and other issues broke down as Republicans and Democrats disagreed on much bigger issues including voting rights.