Can your vote be bought?

bought voteFor several years the vote of Georgia legislators have been courted by people in the gaming industry urging them to allow horse racing in our beloved state. At one point there was a push to transform Underground Atlanta into a “casino” with video games of chance operated by the Georgia Lottery Corporation. In July the AJC announced, “Casino and entertainment giant MGM Resorts International is pitching a $1 billion gambling complex for downtown that ... will create 3,500 jobs and offer Las Vegas-style casino gambling.” Of course, these efforts to expand the gambling industry in Georgia are all designed to “rescue” the HOPE scholarship by funneling tens of millions of dollars into its sinking reserves as expenditures outstrip the profits generated by the Georgia Lottery. However, nothing is ever mentioned about gambling exploiting the poor and preying upon the weakness of those who have a penchant for rolling the dice or playing roulette. There is no reference to the fact that gambling is designed to fatten the pocketbooks of the casino kingpins. There is no recounting of the historical connections between gambling and the Mafia. The gambling moguls and politicians they’ve got in their hip pockets beam with happiness and claim their quest to legalize casino gambling and horse racing is nothing more than a desire to support the education of our children and grandchildren. What they really want is to take money out of your pocket and put into theirs. Johnny Franks, writing for, asks, “How excited would they be if we took 100% of (gambling) money and gave it to education. Their excitement would soon wane and turn to anger. They want people addicted to gambling. They want poor people thinking they can make it rich and change their fortunes by. “These people are not nice. They are no better than the snake oil people of old – those who sold miracle cures in a bottle. Did they sell the snake oil to the healthy? No! They preyed upon the sick, the worried, the destitute. They took their last few dollars away from them and lined their own pockets. Franks concluded, “If you want your dollars to go to education then just make a donation to the Board of Education or give a gift card to a teacher to buy supplies for their classroom. Do not give it to these snake oil people who try to dress up their tax of the poor as a gift to education.”

… currently many of our Georgia legislators and public servants are being wined and dined by the gambling lobbyists focused on persuading them to open the door for more gambling in Georgia.

Have you ever thought about how improbable it is that you will win at a game of chance? One informational source indicates that a person has a 1 in 3,000,000 chance of sighting an unidentified flying object (UFO). That is almost five times more likely than winning the lottery jackpot. Statistical experts also have calculated that the odds of winning the top prize at maximum coin play on a slot machine ranges from 1 in 4,056 to 1 in 33,554,000. John Doe lives somewhere in metro Atlanta area. Try reaching him by randomly dialing one of 32 million phone numbers in the 404, 770, 678, 470 area codes of metro Atlanta. The Georgia Lottery website suggests that your odds of contacting Mr. Doe with the phone are eight times better than winning the Mega Millions Jackpot Lottery. Despite the reality the odds are stacked against the gambler and in favor of the gaming industry, there are those who do not know how to control their urge to gamble. Some will spend their last dollar, and then move on to money they don’t have by gambling with money that they should use to pay bills, credit cards, or things for their children. There are even those who become such compulsive gamblers that they feel pushed to borrow, sell, or even steal things for gambling money. It’s a vicious cycle. Gambling is not the way to recoup gambling losses. It only exacerbates the problem and plunges the addict further into debt. However, currently many of our Georgia legislators and public servants are being wined and dined by the gambling lobbyists focused on persuading them to open the door for more gambling in Georgia. The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition website proclaims, “[We] are off and running to bring the excitement and benefits of horse racing to Georgia .... Join us as we work with our state leaders to pass legislation that would allow horse racing in Georgia and make a run for the winner’s circle.”

Could you be persuaded by gifts or favors to vote for casino gambling or horse racing?

An article in Southern Political Report Magazine quoted Matt Towery, national syndicated columnist, as saying, “My guess is that casinos as an amendment will pass. The legislation requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber, but requires no action by the governor. I think this has been in the works for several years, basically concurrent with the Braves’ move to Cobb. While you are not hearing it, my guess is the real footprint in downtown Atlanta that fits the needs for a casino is Turner Field, which may explain Mayor Reed’s tepid response to the Braves’ exit.” Thankfully, Governor Deal signed an ethics bill in 2013 that limited the amount of money lobbyists can spend to influence the passage or defeat of legislation in a General Legislative session. Lobbyists can spend no more than $75 when they entertain a lawmaker; and legislators can no longer accept tickets to concerts or sporting events unless they pay the face value of the ticket. The Columbia County News-Times reported that there are a lot of loopholes in the ethics bill. For example, there is no limit to how many of these $75 gifts a legislator can accept. Theoretically, several lobbyists could pool their resources and provide a lawmaker with something worth a lot of money so long as no individual lobbyist chipped in more than $75. Delta Airlines can still provide legislators with free airline upgrades. Furthermore, the ethics bill provides a loophole for attorneys. A lawyer can claim that he or she is “representing a client” and would not be required to register as a lobbyist. I am fearful that there are Georgia legislators who will succumb to the suitoring of the gambling lobbyists. Can the vote of legislators be bought? How much money would the lobbyists for MGM Resorts International have to pay and how many favors would they have to grant to persuade a sufficient number of legislators to vote to build a casino at Turner Field? I honestly don’t even know if that is possible. But here are some questions for you. How much would it take to buy your vote? Could you be persuaded by gifts or favors to vote for casino gambling or horse racing? Presidential candidates raise lots of money to persuade citizens to vote for them. Can your vote for president be bought? Can your convictions be bought? My beliefs and convictions are not for sale!
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