Atlanta downtown civic group to study effects of casino gaming

As casino interests pour money into Georgia lawmakers' war chests in hopes of bringing gaming to Georgia, a downtown civic organization is moving forward with plans to study the effects of casinos on the region.

Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District haven’t yet taken a position on gaming, but say they want to better understand potential negative consequences or social impacts associated with casinos, as well as how gaming could impact development downtown and beyond.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last fall that CAP and ADID were pursuing an independent study as state lawmakers also examined the issue. CAP has since selected Horwath HTL and HLT Advisory, Inc., to perform the work.

“To be as frank as I can, there’s not enough data out there for people to really understand the pros and cons and how this will affect particularly Atlanta,” said A.J. Robinson, head of CAP and ADID. “We’re business folks. We’d like to look and analyze and see what this is really all about. There’s a lot of data out there, but it hasn’t been presented to us or really anyone in a way to make an intelligent decision.”

Though Robinson’s groups are focused on downtown Atlanta, he said the study will examine the impact of casinos statewide.

Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t support expanding gambling in the state, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle recently said the issue “needs a lot more discussion, a lot more vetting.”

The CAP report is expected to be completed before March 24th.