No matter what, Gwinnett County and Norcross will relatively soon become the home of a $1 billion gambling complex at the intersection of Interstate 85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard, on part of the land no longer needed by the current occupant, OFS, the same land where Western Electric thrived for many years.
This casino will open under auspices of the Georgia Lottery, no matter whether the residents of Gwinnett want it or have a vote on the matter, perhaps even while the sitting governor Nathan Deal protests that he would not want a gambling casino in Georgia, and with no public body having any input in the decision except the independent Georgia Lottery Commission.
You see, the Lottery Commission will point to the passage of the Georgia Lottery constitutional amendment in 1992 as their authority for casino-style gambling. It will come as a surprise and to the astonishment of many Georgians that they were also voting for creation of a gambling arena when they passed the Lottery! But that’s the interpretation that the Georgia Lottery will cite as the authority to bring casino-style “entertainment” to Georgia via video lottery terminals.
Of course, the Georgia Lottery will whitewash the establishment of the casino-complex as a bold attempt to “save” the Hope Scholarship. After all, it will point out, if something isn’t done to bring in more revenue for Hope Scholars, the program will be significantly curtailed, and not be worth as much to the scholars now getting a free ride for their college tuition. This will allow their parents, the real beneficiary of the Hope Scholarship funds, to breathe a sign of relief, and in effect, be thankful that some way was found to provide the funds for their bright child’s college that they might have had to fund without the new gambling program funding Hope.
Why do we feel that the casino is coming? And when?
First, the when. We suggest that it could come as early as the first of January, before the Georgia Legislature gavels into session. That would make the establishment of the casino a fait accompli, meaning that the Legislature could do nothing about it, since it had already been passed by the independent Georgia Lottery Commission.
And why do we think so strongly that the casino is coming?
Now just think: if you were being considered as a new president of the Georgia Lottery, as was Debbie Dlugolenski Alford of Conyers mostly recently, what questions would you ask of both the other members of the Georgia Lottery, and of the person pushing for you to get the job, the governor?
Wouldn’t you want some indication of how the Lottery was going to get past its anticipated shortfall? Wouldn’t you want to know if you were going to be a “maintenance caretaker,” always desperately trying to find new sources of revenue?
Or wouldn’t you be far more willing to accept the job if you knew that there was going to be a major new source of Hope Scholarship funds through allowing new games of chance to be run through the Georgia Lottery? After all, wouldn’t such a casino contribute as much as $350 million annually, and make the job of Lottery president much easier? Wouldn’t you want to know the answers to these questions prior to accepting the presidency?
So look forward to an announcement from the Georgia Lottery soon, no matter the protests of citizens, politicians, and especially the governor. After all, Governor Deal’s hands are tied…….since the Lottery Commission is independent….even though the governor appoints this board. Don’t you know?