Atlanta is latest target for major casino in US

Atlanta is latest target for major casino in US

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 Totally Gaming
MGM has admitted its interest in a $1bn resort in the Georgia city

Gaming operator MGM Resorts International has admitted to plans for a $1bn (€900m) gambling complex in Atlanta should Georgia pass laws that would allow casino resorts across the US state.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that MGM has been considering suitable sites in Atlanta in recent months, and that a spokesperson confirmed the company's interest in the city, adding that plans are at the “very preliminary stages”. The report suggests that the city’s proximity to a major airport, its existing conference and exhibition industry and its population of almost five million are all factors in its desirability.

Nevada-based MGM’s plans reportedly include a luxury hotel and an entertainment venue in addition to a gaming floor, with the newspaper also suggesting the company has hired five lobbyists to back Bill 677, proposed by Georgia’s economic development committee chairman Ron Stephens.

State Rep Stephens called MGM’s proposal a “win-win-win” as well as the “Cadillac” of casino projects. He said: “I hope the public gets the opportunity to vote. This is a massive bill.”

If the bill passes, local governments could propose to voters the option to allow a casino to be built in their area. The state would be partitioned into five zones and no more than six casino licenses would be permitted - each overseen by the Georgia Lottery Corp. The bill would initially need two-thirds of votes in the state’s legislators, and would then be put to public ballot, possibly as early as November 2016.

Bill 677 would raise taxes to provide for Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship, which offers in state tuition to students attending public universities or technical colleges.

Georgia is one of many US states currently looking at the expansion of land-based and online gaming as executives seek ways of raising tax revenues and creating jobs. MGM is already due to open an $800m casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, a National Harbor casino project outside Washington DC and a shopping and entertainment centre in Las Vegas in the coming years.

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