February 20, 2017 Newsletter

Casino Embedded in “Immediate Action Needed!

Threat Percolating under the Gold Dome; Will Georgia get two casinos or six?
S.B. 79 and H.B. 158, as introduced, authorize two casinos.
S.R. 249 proposed constitutional amendment authorizes SIX!

S.R. 249, a proposed constitutional amendment dropped in the House hopper February 17th to be officially introduced February 20th, authorizes the General Assembly to license “no more than six” destination resorts (with embedded casinos) “at any given time.” Six casinos are three times the number of casinos authorized in the original versions of S.B. 79 and H.B. 158.

S.R. 249 prohibits all other forms of casino gaming, stating that the prohibition will be enforced by law. Proceeds from licensing, regulation, and taxing of casinos will be used for education after pay-outs, operating expenses, and addictive gambling prevention programs are funded.

Legalizing Casino Gambling could authorize Indian¹ Casinos in Georgia
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is a 1988 U.S. federal law that establishes the jurisdictional framework governing Indian gaming. There was no federal gaming structure before this Act (Pub. L. 100-497, 25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.), that established the following three gaming classes:
Class I gaming is defined as (1) traditional Indian gaming, that may be part of tribal ceremonies, and celebrations, and (2) social gaming for minimal prizes. Class 1 gaming regulatory authority is vested exclusively in tribal governments.
Class II gaming is a game of chance commonly known as bingo and, if played in the same location, includes card games that are played exclusively against other players rather than against the house or a player acting as a bank. The Act specifically excludes from the definition of class II games slot machines or electronic facsimiles of any game of chance.
Class III gaming is broad. It includes all forms of gaming that are neither class I nor II. Games commonly played at casinos, such as slot machines, blackjack, craps, and roulette, clearly fall in the class III category, as well as wagering games and electronic facsimiles of any game of chance. Generally, class III is often referred to as casino-style gaming. For Indian tribes to establish and operate casinos, the following conditions must be in place:
(a) Class III gaming must be permitted in the state.
(b) The tribe and state must have negotiated a compact with approved regulatory procedures.
(c) The Tribe must have a tribal gaming ordinance approved by the commission chairman.
A 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision was interpreted to allow states to address only “crimes and civil disputes” in tribal issues. That ruling opened the gates for the Indian gaming industry to become the most widely successful economic initiative on reservations across the country.

ACTION – OPPOSE S.B. 79 and S.R. 249. Vote expected by Thursday, February 23rd. Call Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee Senators Jeffares, Ch., 463-1376; Ginn, V-Ch., 404 656-4700; McKoon, Sec., 463-3931; Cowsert, 463-1366; Gooch, 656-9221; Harbison, 656-0074; Henson, 656-0085; Hill, 656-5038; Kennedy, 656-0045; Lucas, 656-5035; Miller, 656-7454; Mullis, 656-0057; Shafer, 656-0048; Unterman, 463-1368.

  •  To read the rest of this newsletter in PDF format, please click here.

February 10, 2017 Radio Commentary

Do you want a casino in your back yard?

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, February 10, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

If the 2015 casino bills had passed, six casinos would be sprinkled around the state, already, and the State Constitution would be listing all 159 counties, divided into six districts, to indicate where each of the six casinos would be built. Thankfully, those bills died and the state has no casinos, but here we go, again.

This year’s bills are less up-front than the others. The current ones refer to “destination resorts,” and describe them as developments for shopping and entertainment, convention halls and hotels that just happen to have space for a business called “gaming.” So, Georgians are supposed to swallow the notion that this is nothing new, all is well, and nothing will change … although there will be an around-the-clock every-day-of-the-year gambling area, to accommodate folks who want in-state casinos!

Representative Ron Stephens introduced H.B. 158 and Senator Brandon Beach introduced S.B. 79. They are identical bills; both are called the “Destination Resort Act;” both create casino gambling; and both create a five-member Georgia Gaming Commission. The governor appoints three members, the lieutenant governor appoints one and the House Speaker appoints one. That means, the sitting governor will control the commission. Continue reading

February 2017 Newsletter

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.