Casino Gambling in Georgia – Should Casino Gambling Be Made Legal in Georgia?

The State of Georgia is facing a budget shortfall for fiscal 2009 of over $2 Billion. And states do not have the luxury of running deficit spending, and printing up paper money to cover the shortfall. State budgets must be balanced each year. So, Georgia needs to give serious consideration to a new revenue stream.

State Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) has announced his intention to introduce a bill in the 2009 legislative session to allow voters to decide if they want gaming in Georgia. His bill would allow voters of each Georgia county to decide whether or not they wanted gaming in their county. The Georgia Assembly and recent governors have been cool to the idea of casinos in Georgia. But the legislature has never allowed any gaming proposal to be voted on in a general referendum or any other popular vote.

The big question is: Should gambling be made legal in the state of Georgia?

Answer Number One: In a free society, individuals are free to use their income and assets whichever way they choose. There should be no moral, ethical, or even Biblical sanction against gambling. Some people believe that gambling is a sin, but a sin should not be made illegal when it does not initiate force or fraud against another individual. Said another way, if I use my money to gamble with, it’s my business.

Answer Number Two: The State legislators have already settled any moral trepidations they may have ever had over gambling. It is already legal here in Georgia in one form. Fifteen years ago, lottery gambling became legal in Georgia, and to date, has generated over $15 Billion in tax revenue. Sales for fiscal year 2008 climbed to a record-breaking $3.5 billion, exceeding the revenue generated during fiscal year 2007. So, the State of Georgia has already been in the gaming business for over 15 years. Casino gambling is simply another form of gambling. However, with casino gambling, the state will not have the monopoly, but private enterprise will own and operate the casinos.

With a 15-year history of successful gaming under its belt, it is going to be pretty hard for the Georgia General Assembly to refuse casino gambling without exhibiting massive hypocrisy. But massive hypocrisy has not stopped them in the past.

But, what about other states where gaming is legal? What has their experience been?

To find out, I went to the website of the American Gaming Association in Washington, DC.

In Nevada, the granddaddy of them all, where gaming began in 1931, tax revenues from gaming have been a large part of the state budget. In 2006, Nevada gaming had 201,000 employees and tax revenues were $1.034 Billion. Nevada’s budget for 2009 is set at $6 Billion, so gaming revenue comprises about 17% of that state’s total income each year.

Mississippi legalized gaming in 1990, passed by legislation and local option vote. There are 30,500 gaming employees, and tax revenue for 2006 was $350.44 Million.

Louisiana legalized gambling in 1993, passed by legislation and local option vote. Tax revenue last year was $559 million, another $68 million from racetrack casinos, with 20,300 gaming employees.

Michigan legalized gambling in 1996 by statewide referendum, local option vote and legislation. Michigan has 3 casinos that generated 2006 tax revenue of $365 million.

So we see here that other states have long histories of success with casino gambling.

Casino gambling would be a welcome addition to the convention business in Atlanta and other Georgia cities. Las Vegas has been stealing away convention business for years now with their gaming and entertainment attractions. The Georgia hospitality and restaurant industries would also get an infusion of business as they support gaming tourism.

Atlanta has another competitive advantage as a gaming destination…Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the busiest airport in the world. It’s been said that you can’t even get to heaven without connecting through Atlanta. Our presence as a Southern regional transportation hub makes Atlanta an easy gaming destination for the two thirds of the population of the US that lives east of the Mississippi River.

Casino gambling can be a valuable addition to the economy of Georgia. I hope that the Georgia General Assembly can find its courage and conscience and votes in favor of casino gambling in the 2009 Legislative Session.

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Riverboat Casinos and Casino Cruises-Then and Now

Long before the online gambling revolution and even before the boost of tribal casinos, a casino cruise was the only legal way to gamble in the US besides Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos. Nowadays, gambling on a riverboat casino is only one of the many options that the recreational gambler faces when he feels like shooting dice.

The history of casino cruises and riverboat casinos in the United States goes back to the beginning of the 19th century when the Mississippi River was a major trade center for farmers and merchants. The river towns became major attraction for professional gamblers, also known as cardsharps, who were hunting the travelers who used to carry large amounts of cash with them.

When five cardsharps were lynched in Mississippi in 1835, the professional gamblers drove away from the south. The fashion of riverboat gambling remained as an informal routine between travelers. The two decades before the Civil War saw the pick of luxurious riverboat casino gambling.

The public image of the average riverboat gambler has changed a lot in the last century. If during the 19th century riverboat gambling was part of the frontier lifestyle, nowadays, a casino cruise is something you would buy for your grandparents anniversary.

The first State to legalize casino riverboats was Iowa in 1989. Now, riverboat casinos are legalized in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas. In some states, the casino riverboats actually sail along the sea, while others are anchored permanently and never leave the dock. The second type of riverboat casinos enable recreational gamblers to simply hop on a nearby casino and play their favorite casino game for a few hours.

The types of casino games available in riverboat casinos vary from one state to another. You can usually play slot machines and classic table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, etc. Some of the riverboat casinos also have poker rooms where passengers can play Texas Holdem against each other. Most of the casino cruises are family oriented and offer other activities besides gambling such as live entertainment for children.

If you are planning to take part in a casino cruise, you do not have to worry about cardsharps or a tough competition around the poker table. Most of the people who join a casino cruise are recreational gamblers who appreciate a good game of craps in between fine dining and sun tanning on the dock. In addition, you would enjoy a much nicer and patient service from the casino dealers and employees than in an average Las Vegas casino.

If spending a weekend on a riverboat casino is too much for you, you can try some of Florida daily casino cruises. If you take Sterling Casino Lines cruise, for example, you can leave at 11 am and be back by 18 pm. Sterling Casino Lines cruises take place on a 75,000 square feet gambling area with more than 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games.

Sterling Casino Line cruise is only one example from numerous options available around the states for those of you who want to gamble at the country rivers, lakes and seas. The variety of casino cruises and dockside riverboat casinos includes the most luxurious Las Vegas styles casinos and simpler alternatives. If you enjoy gambling just for fun and you tend to get sea sick, joining a casino cruise can be an enjoyable distraction for one day or for a whole weekend.