Georgia lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that would allow the state to regulate video poker machines. The bill, which would boost state college scholarship money, now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.
Under the measure, the state would be able to crack down on the machines’ illegal payouts by tracking how many people play games. The machines are often found in gas stations, and award non-cash prizes.
Opponents of gambling in Georgia have targeted the bill for defeat.
But Rep. Matt Ramsey, a Peachtree City Republican, said the amended measure would reduce illicit gaming. “First we added local control measures," Ramsey said. Right now under state law, municipalities can prohibit more than nine machines at any one location. So you can only have nine, cities and counties are allowed to pass ordinances to that effect. We’ve taken that number down to six. So localities now can prohibit more than six at any one location."
The HOPE college scholarship program would eventually receive ten percent of the machines’ proceeds.
Gov. Deal backs the bill and is expected to sign it.