Casino Embedded in “Destination Resort” Center
Q. Does Georgia have a “destination resort” (as defined in H.B. 158 and S.B. 79)
within its borders?
A. Not yet, but Georgia will have two destination resorts with casinos,
if H.B. 158 or S.B. 79 passes.
Q. What does a destination resort have besides a casino?
A. Its freestanding, land based development has hotels, restaurants, villas, “limited gaming” (casino) facilities, convention and meeting sites, shopping centers, attractions, entertainment facilities, and service centers.
Q. Will destination resorts interfere with existing gambling available on maritime vessels?
A. Maritime gambling in Georgia’s jurisdiction before January 1, 2016 will not be affected.
H.B. 158 Destination Resort Act or Resort Act by Representative Ron Stephens is identical to S.B. 79 Destination Resort Act or Resort Act by Senator Brandon Beach, and both introduced their bills on January 30th. Both bills create a five-member Georgia Gaming Commission (GGC) comprised of Georgia residents who are U.S. citizens. The five would be appointed as follows: The Governor appoints three members, the Lieutenant Governor appoints one, and the Speaker of the House appoints one. Meaning, it would be controlled by the Governor.
The commission will establish the Destination Resort Trust Fund into which the commission will deposit all excise taxes, fees, and other revenue received by the commission. The fund will finance the operation of the commission, its investigations¹, the regulation of casinos, and enforcement of the law governing casinos, but salaries for commissioners is not mentioned.
Absolute power of GGC: (a) Select the county in which a destination resort license is awarded; (b) issue state licenses for casinos, manufacturers, sellers and distributors of gambling devices, supplies and equipment; (c) inspect equipment and supplies in, upon, or about the premises; (d) remove, seize, and impound such, along with documents or records; (e) demand access to records of applicants, licensees, and other entities; (f) investigate suspected violators who may be prosecuted; (g) issue subpoenas; and (h) appoint hearing examiners to interrogate under oath.
Destination Resorts may operate 24 hours, 365 days of the year. No one company may hold two destination resort licenses concurrently and applicants must demonstrate a plan for the project to derive over 60 percent of its revenue from nongaming.
- A county with a population over 900,000, based on the most recent census, would be selected for the larger investment. As of July 1, 2016, Georgia’s most densely populated counties were Fulton², 1,010,562; Gwinnett, 895,832; Cobb, 741,334; and DeKalb, 734,871.
The licensee for the first locale must be able to invest $2 billion into the project, include a hotel with 1,000 guest rooms, and be near a convention center district within the same county.
- The second county selected for a resort must be populated with at least 250,000 residents, but no more than 900,000. Populations of Chatham, Clayton and Cherokee currently qualify. Licensees must invest at least $450 million, and a convention center must be nearby.
- To read the rest of this newsletter in PDF format, please click here.
¹ The commission may investigate, for the purpose of prosecution, any suspected criminal violation.
² Public Library Serv. projects increase for 2018: Fulton, 1,070,062; Gwinnett, 948,365; Cobb, 763,778; DeKalb, 745,417.