Abrams Wants Casinos to Fund Education in Georgia
Most people did not have Georgia on their list of states that could legalize casino gambling and sports betting. Yet, here we are, discussing that possibility because of gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Casino gambling and sports betting have shown themselves to be divisive issues across party lines in the United States but not by party lines. If one had to choose a political party to stand on one side of the issue or another, Democrats might be more likely to support a person’s right to gamble, while Republicans often take a more conservative view on expanding access to something potentially harmful and morally wrong. However, many states that have passed new gambling and sports betting laws see both support and opposition on both sides of the legislative aisle.
For this reason, many politicians abstain from taking a stance on gambling at all, especially during campaigns for state or federal office.
Stacey Abrams, however, has shown herself to be willing to take risks. It’s not surprising that she has included a pro-gambling platform in her policy papers.
Gambling for Education
In almost every state in America, education is underfunded. Teachers now take to social media to request financial help to buy supplies for each school year. Schools cut arts programs to reserve funds for the basics.
Even with that, schools have seen dips in attendance due to everything from homelessness to lack of transportation. More parents keep their kids out of schools out of fear of illness, gun violence, bullying, and even topics to be (or not to be) discussed in classes.
In her economic mobility policy paper, Abrams has plans. While lottery reserves are available for some education programs, Abrams feels that revenues from sports betting and land-based casinos can be a permanent source of funding for the following:
-To restore tuition-free technical certificates and degrees for students with a 2.0 GPA or higher
-To institute a need-based aid program for college students
-To possibly fund pre-kindergarten education or pre-college school technology needs
-To create a proper lottery reserve, increasing it to 100% of the previous year’s lottery revenues to stabilize programs not fully funded by the lottery reserve
-To address mental and behavioral health issues related to evidence-based gambling addiction
-To create an outreach program to meet gambling addicts where they are and provide more assistance
Here's my proposal to make sure we can expand access to education for our young people and grow our economy:
✅ Pass legislation providing for online sports betting
✅ Champion a constitutional amendment to bring casinos to GA
✅ Increase support for gambling addiction services
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 11, 2022
With Legislative Help
Abrams, if elected as the next governor of Georgia, could not legalize multiple forms of gambling without the support of the legislature. She does have a plan for legislation, both for online sports betting and land-based casinos.
Legislators will be key allies in the fight for online sports betting. They will need to pass legislation to legalize mobile and internet sportsbooks. Abrams seems to be basing some of her plan on neighboring Tennessee, which legalized sports betting in 2020. While it is one of dozens to have latched on to new gambling revenue, it is only one of eight states that surpassed $60M in tax receipts as of May 2022. It cleared $400M in all-time gross revenue by that time as well.
Not only has Tennessee found great success and a new revenue stream through sports betting, it attracts quite a few bettors from Georgia who cross the state line to place their bets. Abrams wants that money back in Georgia.
Abrams plans to adopt the 20% tax rate on sports betting profits as charged by Tennessee. Georgia would also garner revenue from registration and licensing fees.
Additionally, Abrams wants the Georgia Lottery Commission to oversee the new sports betting industry.
For casinos, the process of legalization would start with studies and research. The legislature would need to authorize a study to determine the proper number of casinos and size of those establishments.
When the study determines the scope of and potential for casino gambling, Abrams supports a constitutional amendment to authorize casinos. Her initial hope is to garner authorization to issue one, two, or three licenses for casino projects at the start. More casinos could follow in the years that follow if success deems them viable.
Earlier this week, I shared my vision for how we can transform our young people's lives by investing in their education.
To make sure we have a permanent revenue source, I will support legislation enabling online sports gaming & a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in GA. pic.twitter.com/nyqSuekrjb
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 11, 2022
Abrams has a tough race in front of her. She has been campaigning against incumbent Brian Kemp, a Republican who won the 2018 gubernatorial election by defeating her by one percentage point. Abrams and Kemp will also face Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel and two independent candidates in November 2022.
According to the latest FiveThirtyEight statistics per the latest polls, Kemp has been leading Abrams all year. The largest margin of that lead came in early April when Kemp showed more than 50% support to the nearly 44% of Abrams. More recently, Abrams has closed the game somewhat. In late July, only 4.5% separated the two candidates.
Other polls, such as the most recent from Emerson College, shows the governor’s race even closer.
Georgia polling – Emerson
Walker (R) 46%
Warnock (D) 44%
Kemp (R) 48%
Abrams (D) 44%
Biden job performance
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) August 30, 2022