Sen Brandon Beach speaks committee meeting in December 2018. (Photo by Phil Skinner)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Senate creates committee to study gambling

After a bill that would have paved the way for horse racing in Georgia stalled in the Senate, the chamber voted Tuesday to create a committee to study gambling.

According to House Resolution 367, a panel of 11 lawmakers — including most of Senate leadership — are expected to meet during the summer and fall to study the impact of allowing horse racing and casino gambling in the state.

It’s a step back for state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, who celebrated a minor victory earlier this year when legislation that would allow up to three horse-racing tracks in Georgia cleared a Senate panel.

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Photos: Sine Die at the Georgia legislature

Beach, who is running for the 6th Congressional District seat, also introduced the resolution creating the study committee.

While he said he’s disappointed Senate Resolution 45 didn’t make it through the Legislature this year, he believes the study committee will give the measure broader support going into the 2020 legislative session. 

“By having the right people around the table and learning and being educated on the issue, I think we’ll make progress next year,” Beach said.

Beach said legalizing horse racing and casinos in Georgia would create jobs, and also help the state shore up the HOPE scholarship with a percentage of the revenue being dedicated to the fund.

Since 1993, money from the Georgia Lottery has funded HOPE scholarships for hundreds of thousands of students going to the state’s public and private colleges.

For years, lawmakers have sought to expand gambling in Georgia. Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston did not specifically oppose the measure this year.

Many conservative groups and faith leaders oppose expanding any form of gambling because they find it immoral and an addictive habit that breeds crime.

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