Big casino companies, including Las Vegas giant MGM Resorts International, have been among the biggest donors to Georgia lawmakers, local news outlet Politically Georgia reported citing information from recently filed campaign disclosures.
According to the information released, MGM Resorts has donated thousands of dollars to a number of local politicians and political organizations, including two candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for governor. The casino operator has contributed the amount of $22,000 to former Rep. Stacey Evans and of $14,000 to former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.
Both Democratic candidates have previously pointed out that they would support the legalization of casinos in the state if new revenue is generated for Georgia’s HOPE scholarship. The program was created in the early 1990s to reward students with financial assistance to complete higher education degrees at both public and private colleges and universities around the state. Since its creation, the program has been funded by the state lottery.
Other donations made by MGM Resorts in 2017 included $1,000 to House Speaker David Ralston and another $1,000 to the state’s Republican Senatorial Committee, $9,000 to the Georgia Democratic Party, and $10,000 to the Georgia House GOP Trust, Politically Georgia reports.
The Las Vegas casino giant has been among the most active advocates for the legalization of casino gambling in Georgia. It had even previously pitched a $1-billion project for the construction of a “destination resort” in the state’s capital Atlanta.
Boyd Gaming, another Las Vegas gaming company, has also been among the donors of a number of influential Georgian politicians, according to the campaign disclosures.
Casino Legalization Effort
The legalization of casino gambling in the state has appeared as a topic in the Georgia General Assembly over the years, but has never gained enough support to move any forward. Early in 2017, Sen. Brandon Beach introduced a bill on the matter, but it did not make it even through its first committee vote.
Senate Bill 79 would have authorized the construction of two “destination resorts” in two different locations in the state. The first such resort would have had to be built in Atlanta and to have cost at least $2 billion. The location for the other property was not specified in the legislative piece, but it would have cost $450 million to construct, if the bill had come into effect as a law.
Sen. Beach said last year that he would continue to lobby for the legalization of casino gambling, despite his bill’s failure. However, it seems that this year’s push may have failed before its actual start, even though gambling advocates in the Legislature have been trying to accumulate support.
It is believed that if lawmakers manage to convince their colleagues that casino venues could generate significant revenue for the state’s HOPE scholarship program, this may increase the effort’s chances to succeed.
Robert Johnson is an experienced web author and blogger. He has over three years of experience as a freelance journalist and writer.