Here We Go Again: Horse racing proposed in Georgia

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Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing is once again being introduced in the Georgia Senate by Republican Senator Brandon Beech (21th Dist.). However, not only is it being reintroduced, but disguised! Yes, it is being called the “Rural Georgia Jobs and Growth Act,” Senate Bill 45!

Give me a break! Does anyone really believe that the citizens in Georgia do not know what this really is? This is the expansion of gambling, plain and simple!

This past Wednesday, Feb. 13, I had an opportunity to once again voice Georgia Baptists’ opposition to expanding the activity of gambling in our state. The Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee heard testimony from those for and against the bill. The committee, chaired by Republican Senator Frank Ginn, is not expected to take a vote on the measure until the next committee meeting on Wednesday, February 20.

As many of you may know, over the past four years we have been able to stop every single piece of gambling legislation, from Daily Fantasy Sports to casino gambling. Nevertheless, my prediction has proven true, that the gambling industry has not given up! See video on how Georgia Baptists have responded in the past. For more background, click here to see the last GBC resolution opposing gambling.

The aggressive actions by gambling interests in recent years make it abundantly clear their intention of seeking to expand legalized gambling in Georgia. Out-of-state corporations and businesses are poised to invest multiplied millions of dollars in a bold effort to change state laws to allow pari-mutuel gambling.

Predictably, the usual arguments for increasing gambling continue to be “this will create jobs” and “it is for the children.” Now proponents are claiming it will help fund “health care” and “rural development.” These alleged “benefits” fail to exceed the societal costs of gambling. Studies continue to show that for every $1 raised in tax revenue, there are $3 in social costs! Families, children, and taxpayers will be negatively impacted by this blight on our state.

This is dangerous legislation, not just because it is pari-mutuel betting, but because it will be used to allow betting on horse races at other tracks. The legislation will also allow for historical horse racing machines (click here to see how closely they resemble a casino), the potential of off-track betting sites around the state, and even the potential of betting via cell phones.

All of this, if allowed, will eventually lead to full blown casinos in our state and the danger of increased sex trafficking! If this legislation is not stopped now, we will lose an opportunity we will never get back!

Understand that once the State of Georgia allows Class III gambling, this will open the door for all types of gambling, including the opportunity for any Indian tribe to “venue shop” to open casinos on land that would be taken out of the governance of the State and off the local tax digest. Further, once the gambling industry is allowed to operate legally in the state, its lobbying power will grow and its influence will increase over legislators and local community officials.

The fact remains that predatory gambling is a vice that preys on those who can least afford to throw their money away. Creating jobs and raising funds for education and health care are not the proper rationale for attempting to legalize more immoral behavior in our state. What are we going to end up calling these kinds of causes – “Horses for Hope”? Will it one day be: “Money from Marijuana” or God forbid, even “Pennies from Prostitutes”?

It is as if we have become totally sold on the idea that the end justifies the means. We have become convinced that we can put money over morality, and somehow morality will win out. When are we going to realize that using this kind of logic could justify any sin if it is perceived as a means for creating jobs and raising funds for education and health care? Money cannot be the bottom line in legalizing vices in our society.

We are also hearing the mantra of “let the people decide”! However, I remind you that the people have already decided to trust you – that you will not bow or bend to the big money interests of the gambling cartel. They will outspend any effort (a million to one) to defeat gambling opposition. It certainly will not be a fair fight! The best “bang” for the people’s buck is what you decide under the Gold Dome!

I implore you not to resort to the same excuse that was used by Pilate in condemning the Lord Jesus to the cross. Pilate knew what he was doing was wrong, but condescended to the political pressure to take the easy way out! He decided to let the people decide!

These are some of the reasonswe urge this committee to have the moral courage to oppose the efforts by representatives of the lucrative gambling industry, who unashamedly seek to exert their influence in the political process with the proceeds of their nefarious profits.

Please contact these committee members of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee and ask them, prayerfully and respectfully, to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 45!

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