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Georgia considers expanding legal gambling

In previous years, legislators would combine different forms of gambling under one bill, they now have separated them.

HAWKINSVILLE, Ga. — Two Republican lawmakers are filing legislation again to expand legal gambling in Georgia.

Unlike previous years, there are separate bills for different types of gambling.

Clarence Martin, Jr., a trainer at Hawkinsville Harness Training Center, said expanding legal gambling is a “win-win.”

“No one realizes how much money comes from one horse,” said Martin.

The trainer currently has a dozen horses and said each one costs about $600 a month to care for. He thinks if the state allowed people to bet on races it could help the economy grow.

“They'd probably have a really good business because there are a lot of people that would come from the north who won't come because they want to race,” Martin said.

Those people could be in luck soon. Legislators have proposed multiple bills to expand gambling beyond the Georgia lottery.

In the past, the bills would all be encompassed in one, but now, it's three separate bills.

One would help establish three racetracks in the state; the other would allow voters to decide whether they would support casinos; the third, would legalize online sports betting.

“Think some of those could pass individually, but there could be opposition to the casino,” said Houston county representative Heath Clark.

Clark said studies show casinos sometimes causes other problems like an increase in sex trafficking, drugs, and bankruptcy.

However, he does think a racetrack in a more rural area could be an economic gain.

“You have tourism, businesses would open, it would be an economic boom for an area like Hawkinsville,” said Clark.