Stacey Abrams supports Georgia casinos and sports betting

Posted on: August 10, 2022, 03:19h.

Last update on: August 10, 2022, 03:24h.

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is betting on regulated casinos and sports betting as part of her bid to defeat incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams during a recent campaign stop. It is favorable to the contribution of casinos and sports betting to the State. (Image: Bloomberg)

On Tuesday, Abrams said if elected she would leverage government revenue from the games to expand access to higher education for Georgian teenagers maintaining a ā€œCā€ average and above.

Studies predict that the potential for billions exists in economic impact, funds that will not only fund our efforts to replenish and expand the HOPE Fellowship, but will also provide new economic opportunities for Georgia that can create jobs and make our economy stronger for everyone,ā€ she says, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Georgia has a lottery, but beyond that, the state has long opposed other regulated forms of gambling, including commercial and tribal casinos and sports betting. The 2022 legislative session of the state General Assembly ended in April without any concrete action on casinos and sports betting.

Interesting Game Gambit by Abrams

Abrams is trailing the incumbent in the polls and is looking for ways to reinvigorate his campaign ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8. In 85 of 100 results, Kemp beats the challenger, according to political research firm FiveThirtyEight. He narrowly beat Abrams in 2018.

Still, supporting the expansion of games in Georgia is a way for Abrams to part ways with Kemp. Georgia’s governors have a long history of opposing casinos and sports betting, but these initiatives enjoy bipartisan support among rank-and-file members of the General Assembly and Senate. Voters also favor the addition of casinos and sportsbooks, although there is more support for the former.

Georgia’s process of liberalizing gambling options is similar to other states, where lawmakers would have to amend the state’s constitution and then send the questions to voters in the form of ballot initiatives. Two-thirds of the members of the state House and Senate would have to approve the amendments before the issue can be decided by voters, meaning bipartisan support is needed.

Lottery spending funds the HOPE University Scholarship Program. But because Georgia has grown its population, HOPE funds only 70% of recipients’ college fees. This shortfall has prompted some politicians to tout casinos and sports betting as ways to fill the void.

Familiar playbook

Abrams pitching casinos and sports betting as revenue generators is a tactic for at least one other high-profile Democratic gubernatorial candidate facing an uphill battle to unseat a deployed Republican incumbent.

In April, Texas Democrat Robert “Beto” O’Rourke said he would consider supporting plans to bring casinos and sports betting to the state. Like Georgia, Texas has a lottery and a long history of opposing casino games.

As the second largest state, Texas is widely considered an untapped golden hen by integrated resort and sports betting operators. For sports betting companies, Georgia is a coveted market due to the population’s affinity for college sports, the presence of professional sports teams in Atlanta, and the fact that currently none of the neighboring states allows mobile sports betting.