The companies are selling themselves as legitimate and transparent businesses that welcome regulations. They also have stressed community involvement and said they are not looking for tax incentives or financial giveaways in order to do business in Georgia.
A legislative proposal now on the table calls for up to six “destination” casino resort licenses that would be allowed across five geographic zones in Georgia: Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah and South Georgia. The proposal sets aside two licenses for a broadly defined metro Atlanta zone, although one would be more limited than the other. Others are hoping to bring horse racing to the state.
One estimate suggests at least $280 million annually in new state tax revenue from casinos, while racing advocates claim up to an additional $25 million in new tax revenue could come annually from parimutuel betting. All that money has been proposed as a boost toward the state’s premier education programs, including the HOPE scholarship for college students and early childhood pre-k classes.
Deal has left open the possibility he would change his mind, but only if the industry agreed to a significantly higher tax rate than the 12 percent currently proposed. Deal told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month that he thought that rate would need to be anywhere from 24 to 35 percent of gross revenue.