Georgia lawmaker pushing referendum to allow legal poker rooms

Georgia State CapitolThe Georgia State Capitol as seen on Jan. 5, 2017. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

ATLANTA — A state lawmaker says she will re-introduce legislation to create a referendum allowing voters to decide on the legalization of poker rooms in select entertainment districts in Georgia.

State Rep. Keisha Waites, D-Atlanta, first introduced the “Casino Poker Room” bill during the 2015 session. The 2017 session convenes on Monday.

“Billions of dollars are leaving Georgia and flowing into our neighboring states Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama as a result of Georgia’s lack of casino gambling,” Waites said in a news release. “That is revenue that could be coming into our state. With approval from the voters, poker rooms could be the first of many steps toward gaming in Georgia. This bill has the potential to generate tax revenue for schools, scholarships, as well as spur tourism and economic development. This House Resolution is also a jobs generator with the potential to create thousands of jobs in our state through construction and operations.”

The legislation would only legalize poker rooms in counties and cities that have an established entertainment district and have approved the practice through a referendum.

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