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Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 11:46am

Deal, Others Reject Gambling

A Georgia Lottery-funded study says, the state could generate about $1 billion a year with three casinos.

Some are calling the idea "dead on arrival." In fact, Gov. Nathan Deal has already nixed the idea.

The study looked at placing 10,000 video lottery terminals in casinos in Atlanta, Savannah and Jekyll Island.

The report says the state is an "untapped market" for gambling.

A few state lawmakers have called for some expanded gambling to make up for declining revenues.

But, Jekyll Island Authority spokesman Eric Garvey says, his island's visitors don't want it.

"If they are looking for casino-style gambling, there are other destinations for them to go to," Garvey says. Any proposition that would introduce gambling against our board's will would not happen."

The lottery's board asked for the study to inform state policy-makers.

So far, those policy-makers -- from the Governor on down -- have shown little interest in expanding gambling, despite revenue shortfalls.

Gov. Deal has said repeatedly that "there will not be an expansion of gambling under his watch,” his spokesman Brian Robinson said in a statement.

Robinson said what caught the Governor's attention in the study was the finding that 10,000 illegal slot machines are already operating in Georgia, and that each machine takes in about $200,000 a week.

"The governor is concerned that these illegal machines divert millions of dollars away from the Georgia Lottery and the struggling HOPE and Pre-K programs," Robinson said.