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Lobbyist: Turner Field horse-race betting idea discussed
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Betting on horse races is moving closer to legalization, and the City of Atlanta might push it as a replacement for Turner Field, a lobbyist told Conyers officials last week.

Legalized pari-mutuel betting could also change the future of the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers. However, officials did not express any strong opinions about the still-distant possibility.

Elizabeth Miller, an independent political lobbyist, advised City of Conyers officials about various pieces of General Assembly legislation that might impact the city at their annual Winter Retreat, held Jan. 24 in Stone Mountain.

Miller said the latest pari-mutuel betting legalization bill, HB 4, appears to have the votes to pass. But, she added, legislators tell her it likely will be tabled until January 2015 to avoid any fallout of approving the controversial idea in an election year.

Miller added that an increasingly repeated rumor among state officials says the City of Atlanta will seek to put a horse track with pari-mutuel betting on the Turner Field site after the Braves baseball team makes it controversial move to Cobb County. Atlanta officials are expected to lobby hard for pari-mutuel legalization as a result, she said.

When Miller discussed the Braves move with one unnamed Atlanta City Council member, she said, “Right out of his mouth was, ‘Well, we’ll do horse-racing.’”

The News was unable to get immediate comment from local state senators or from Roswell state Rep. Harry Geisinger, the major proponent of pari-mutuel betting.