- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

ATLANTA (AP) - A state Senate committee heard arguments on a bill that would allow gambling on horse racing in Georgia but did not take a vote on it Wednesday after the Senate majority leader said the body hasn’t shown an appetite for gambling legislation.

Senate Resolution 84 would put a referendum question to voters on whether to allow horse racing gambling.

State Sen. Brandon Beach, a Republican from Alpharetta, said the industry would bring $550 million in initial investment without requiring any tax breaks.

“I’ve done economic development for 15 years,” Beach said. “If we had a company that wanted to come in and invest $550 million dollars and create 2,000 jobs with no tax incentives, we’d be throwing a parade for them.” Beach said the proposal was about “jobs and job creation.”

But the majority of speakers who addressed the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee spoke against the bill, saying it was a back door to allowing casino gambling.



“This isn’t just a slippery slope; it’s off to the races,” said Cole Muzio, president of the conservative group Family Policy Alliance.

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, a Carrollton Republican, told reporters that the Senate “has not shown an appetite to pass any gambling legislation” and disputed whether allowing horse racing would actually benefit state revenue collections.

“Horse racing in Kentucky, they actually pay out of their general fund to support horse racing,” Dugan said. “Everyone assumes it’s a revenue source. I’m not sure it is.”

It is not immediately clear when or if the committee will vote on the proposal.

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