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Friday, February 24, 2012 - 11:44am

Poll: GA Wants To Vote On Horse Racing

A new poll released Friday shows that 72% of Georgians support bringing horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering to the ballot in November.

It comes on the heels of Thursday’s proposal of a bi-partisan constitutional amendment to legalize gambling on horse racing in Georgia.

The survey shows that the majority of Georgians support the measure if it means creating new jobs and bringing a championship race to the state.

Horse racing advocates say the industry could raise millions in tourism revenue for Georgia.

The legislation to legalize gambling on horse racing specifies that proceeds would go to educational programs, including the Hope Scholarship.

Opponents, like Ray Newman, with the Georgia Baptist Convention, are concerned that this is an issue of political over-promising and under-delivering:

“They always dangle that carrot that it’s going to help education, and then we discover that even now the lottery is not doing what it was designed to do-- what we were told it was going to do. I know they’re looking for a ready revenue stream, but it’s going to break the back of the poor, because they are the ones who are preyed on the worst with these types of things.”

Hal Barry, President of the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition, answered critics who point to states like Kentucky and Indiana where race tracks are trying to add casinos to boost revenue:

“The model we’re talking about is not to use it as a Trojan horse, as a first step to get casino gambling. Our approach is to do something that brings to the table the best in thoroughbred racing to Atlanta, Georgia.”

Tax payers would not carry the expense of building a horse racing industry in Georgia- it would all come from private funding.

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