You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Georgians deserve chance to vote on economic prospects


The Georgia Legislature is currently debating whether to give us the opportunity to vote on legalizing destination casino resorts. While discussing the pros and cons of casino gaming, we cannot lose sight that destination resorts would help improve Georgia’s economy.

Georgians have the ability to, and do, drive to North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi to visit their casinos. The AJC reported Georgians spend upwards of $600 million a year at casinos in neighboring states. This figure doesn’t include the money Georgians spend there for hotel rooms, gas, restaurants and local attractions.

According to the American Gaming Association, the average casino in Mississippi employs nine individuals for every $1 million of casino revenue. This means every year, Georgians spend enough money at out-of-state casinos to support more than 5,000 jobs. With each passing year of inactivity, Georgia loses.

Tourism is Georgia’s fifth-largest employment sector. In 2015, we welcomed more than 100 million visitors, creating an unprecedented economic impact of $59 billion and contributing $3 billion in taxes to the state. Without strong tourism, the average Georgia family would need to contribute more than $800 a year in additional taxes to make up for the lost revenue.

In 2015, over 51 million visitors spent an estimated $15 billion while visiting Atlanta, creating employment for over 250,000 people. The Georgia World Congress Center alone contributed roughly $1 billion in economic impact while hosting almost a million attendees for 200 trade shows, conventions, and meetings. Because each attendee represents an impact of $900, conventions and other business groups provide Atlanta an opportunity to expand its economic reach and attract out-of-state spending.

The $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland, is an example of how resort developments attract conventions and create jobs. In December 2016, MGM National Harbor opened, and nearby Gaylord Convention Center and Resort recognized the attractiveness of a destination casino resort as an amenity and attraction for convention planners and attendees. Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority found that attendance at rotating shows increases by 8 percent when held in Las Vegas. In anticipation of this increase, the Gaylord broke ground on a $20 million ballroom expansion in August 2016.

MGM National Harbor created more than 3,600 careers in more than 150 different job types, including traditional hospitality roles as well as graphic designers, accountants, engineers and other specializations. The majority of jobs at MGM National Harbor simply required a GED.

Georgians have a strong history of voicing our opinions and voting to decide what we believe is best for our families. In 1992, we voted to form the Lottery, creating the HOPE Scholarship program. I worked with Gov. Zell Miller to pass the Georgia Lottery for Education Act because I believed in what it meant for the people of Georgia. I believe in what the HOPE scholarship offered to Georgia’s families. Without that vote, thousands of our students would be without a path forward into their futures. Because people were allowed to vote, Georgia created a world-class educational program that has allowed thousands of students to successfully attend college and university every year.

We made the decision in 1992, and if the Legislature allows us to vote on a constitutional amendment again, we will decide in November 2018 if destination casino resorts are right for Georgia. The conversation should not be seen as only a debate on destination casino resorts. It is a debate on whether Georgia voters should have the right to grow their own economy, create their own jobs, and make their own choices through their vote.

Andrew Young is a former Ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: The day Bill O’Reilly got fired

On the day Bill O’Reilly was fired, Serena Williams announced she was 20 weeks pregnant. Fans did the math and concluded Williams must have had a baby on board in January when she won her 23rd Grand Slam singles title in dominating fashion. That, said TV tennis analyst Pam Shriver, made Williams’ win “even more spectacular.&rdquo...
Opinion: Alas, the mortgage interest deduction cannot be pried away

WASHINGTON — Attempting comprehensive tax reform is like trying to tug many bones from the clamped jaws of many mastiffs. Every provision of the code — now approaching 4 million words — was put there to placate a clamorous faction, or to create a grateful group that will fund its congressional defenders. Still, Washington will take...
As members flee, Georgia PTA risks status, stability
As members flee, Georgia PTA risks status, stability

On probation for a coup that ousted a revered president and under siege from a growing revolt in the ranks, the leadership of the Georgia PTA is burrowing deeper into its bunker. When the embattled board emerges and takes stock, it’s likely to find a changed landscape. Dozens of PTAs have decided to initiate the complicated process of dissolving...
Opinion: Why? I’ll tell you why!

Because I like it, because it’s Friday and because I’m going out for music and dancing tonight ….
Opinion: No easy, cheap fix for ACA’s shortcomings
Opinion: No easy, cheap fix for ACA’s shortcomings

Remember that Saturday Night Live character who yelled “just fix it”? He had absolutely no idea how to do it; he just wanted it done ASAP. Well, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) can’t be easily fixed — or repealed, as the GOP and President Donald Trump have discovered. Although it is clearly better than nothing, I have never...
More Stories