The Georgia International Horse Park could be in the spotlight if legalized betting at horse racing tracks takes off in the upcoming Georgia General Assembly season, City Manager Tony Lucas reported at the Conyers City Council meeting Wednesday night.
Lucas and Georgia International Horse Park Director Jennifer Bexley were among the many speakers at a day-long hearing looking on pari-mutuel betting by the Special Equine Study Committee, spearheaded by state Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell). Lucas and Bexley gave an overview of the Horse Park.
"It was a dang interesting meeting," said Lucas. "It's going to get some traction and some attention in this next term in the general assembly."
Several house representatives had visited the Horse Park about a month ago, said Lucas. "The accolades coming from these representatives who visited the Horse Park was incredible... There was lot of bragging at this meeting about Conyers, Georgia."
Lucas said the motivation behind the issue was the economy. "It's about the economic times that we're in and looking at other revenue sources."
Geisinger said in an interview on WABE-FM, "What we needed to do was take a look at the industries that would create jobs and at the same time generate revenues. Any time you have all those people working, they pay taxes. It's good for everybody. So this is why we went ahead and said, well, let's see what the equine industry can do, and what pari-mutuel gaming would mean to Georgia."
He also pointed out the revenue currently lost to the state through under-the-table wagering. "Now it's illegal for you to bet on a race today if you live in Georgia. I know there are people out there that go and bet on football, some bet on horses, and the state gets nothing out of that revenue. We can correct that by controlling through pari-mutuel wagering."
A constitutional amendment would be required to legalize pari-mutuel betting in Georgia, partly because of the amendment that allowed the legalization of the lotto more than a decade ago.
Thirty-eight states allow betting on horse races, said Bexley. Kentucky and Florida are the closest to states to Georgia with legalized pari-mutuel betting.
In other city council business:
The city council unanimously approved a special use permit for a telecommunications tower to be leased at the Light House Village.
Check back to www.rockdalenews.com for updates or see the Saturday edition of The Rockdale News for the full story.