Nathan Deal backpedals on support for casinos

Here’s the complete, updated version from Shannon McCaffrey and the Associated Press:

Republican Nathan Deal created a stir when he said earlier this month that he was willing to keep an “open mind” about the possibility of casinos in Georgia, drawing the ire of the state’s politically-powerful Christian conservatives who oppose gambling.

After at least one prominent Christian activist voiced concerns to Deal, his campaign for governor had a different message.

“He personally opposes casino gambling,” Brian Robinson said in an interview this week. “Nathan does not believe gambling is the best way to create jobs.”

Robinson quickly noted that Deal has voted against online gambling bills in Congress but would not say whether Deal, as governor, would sign or veto a bill legalizing casino gambling. Robinson said the issue was moot since permitting gambling in the state would require a constitutional amendment which does not need the governor’s signature to become law.

Deal won his party’s nomination by running as a staunch social conservative, and he’s counting on solid support from the state’s politically-active Christian right to lift him to a win in the November general election.

As a result, his comments on casinos — made at a tourism forum in Savannah last Wednesday — were greeted with surprise by the state’s evangelical leaders.

“I think there are potentials,” Deal said at the forum. “We should look at it with an open mind and we should not say ‘no’ just because of any particular bias one way or the other. I’m willing to keep an open mind about it.”

Ray Newman, lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Convention, said he became so alarmed after learning of Deal’s remarks he called the former congressman to express his concern.

“I think we are on the same page now,” Newman said. “I’m always concerned when there is talk about expanding legalized gambling.”

But Jerry Luquire, head of the Georgia Christian Coalition, said Friday that by refusing to say outright that he would veto a gambling bill, Deal “is essentially saying that he supports casino gambling.”

Luquire said if Deal believes Christian conservatives will support him because “they have nowhere else to go” in the November general election he’s mistaken.

“They don’t have to vote the top of the ballot,” Luquire said. “They can stay home.”

Deal’s opponent, Democrat Roy Barnes, made clear at the Savannah forum that he opposes legalizing casino gambling. He said it would compete with the state lottery, which funds the HOPE scholarship.

After a brutal, three-week runoff to clinch the Republican nomination for governor, the Deal campaign has had to make a quick shift to the general election battle. Barnes, who won his party’s nomination in the July 20 state primary, was able to sit back during the GOP runoff, raising money and honing his strategy against his GOP opponent.

The casino flap is the latest stumble for the Deal campaign in recent weeks

Earlier this month, Deal initially said he would refuse federal “Race to the Top” education funds because of federal strings he said were attached. Hours later, the former congressman reversed course, explaining he had misunderstood the federal program.

Asked last week about his views on placing a mosque near ground zero in New York City, Deal first issued a statement to the Marietta Daily Journal saying it was up to New Yorkers to decide.

The next day he told The Associated Press that “as an American, I am absolutely opposed.” He went on to call construction of the mosque two blocks from where The World Trade Center once stood “an insult” that “keeps the wounds of 9-11 alive.”

The Barnes campaign said Deal has proven himself “unsteady for the job” of governor.

“He cannot even make up his mind about important issues like casino gambling, education funding or whether to release his own tax returns,” Barnes spokesman Emil Runge said.

Deal has so far declined to release his tax returns, and the Barnes campaign has criticized the lack of disclosure in a recent TV ad. Deal also has yet to unveil a detailed education platform. Robinson said both are in the works.

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76 comments Add your comment

Young Lady

August 27th, 2010
2:33 pm

I don’t think I will ever understand the irrational opposition to casino gambling in a state that so fully embraces lottery games.

rc35

August 27th, 2010
2:38 pm

I hope we say a solid “No” to casino gambling AND end the lottery. It’s been truly said that the lottery is a tax on the mathematically challenged. When a government resorts to raising money via gambling, it is simply legalizing the cheating of its citizens.

Ga Dem

August 27th, 2010
2:38 pm

The very rational explanation is the concern that unrestrained casino gambling would cannibalize sales and undermine a successful state-run monopoly over the lottery that has successfully funded higher education for many young ladies (and men) in Georgia.

Lone Star

August 27th, 2010
2:45 pm

Young Lady: You just have to understand the reasoning behind those decisions. Gambling in Georgia is illegal, and it has been for a very, very long time. Even a few friends who gather to play poker are in violation of the law. Now that the state runs a major gambling operation, it is imperative that laws forbidding gambling remain in force.

Traslation: You can gamble all you want – as long as it is at the state’s poker table. The odds so favor the state that I think of the lottery as a tax on the stupid.

Mike

August 27th, 2010
2:47 pm

The problem is there is a limited pie of people willing to waste their money on gambling, and the Georgia lottery wants as big of piece of that pie as possible.

speak the truth

August 27th, 2010
2:48 pm

Why do so many seem so consumed with protecting others from themselves? Each of us should be able to choose how we spend our own money – whether for a lottery ticket, for clothing, donating to others, or being entertained in a casino. Government should stay out of these decisions.

Larry M

August 27th, 2010
2:50 pm

The one reason I might have considered voting FOR Deal is now gone if he flips on this issue. And of course I have the fundamentalist wackos to thank.

There is not rational reason the State should have a monopoly on gambling. To say that it would undermine the lottery is a joke. The tax revenue from casinos could be similarly designated for education. Maybe some people will shift their money from the lottery to a casino, but most will do both. And there are plenty of rational people who understand that the lottery is an absolute waste of my time; on the other hand, those same rational people derive pleasure from poker where you are playing against each other and not the house. Therefore you will see a net increase in tax revenue for education if you add casinos to the mix.

Lone Star

August 27th, 2010
2:51 pm

One of the saddest things about the lottery is that you see so very many people who can ill afford the losses playing the lottery. Many times, I suspect, their children pay for the parent’s stupidity. All too often the dollars received by the lottery were paid out in the form of welfare to the betters.

Jon

August 27th, 2010
2:52 pm

What hasn’t Deal flipped on? Casinos, Race to the Top funds, birther conspiracies…

speak the truth

August 27th, 2010
2:53 pm

Young Lady has it right. 40+ states have lotteries. Georgians gamble here via the lottery. Georgians go to other states to gamble. And, Georgians gamble illegally in Georgia. Our lottery keeps those gambling dollars in the state and uses them to educate our children. If anything, our state needs to figure out how to keep more of what Georgians are going to do.

wait huh?

August 27th, 2010
2:55 pm

deal flipped on the birth conspiracies? I thought he promised that Obama would not be allowed in the state of georgia ever again unless barack can produce a birth certificate? I thought that was the point of his proposed arizona type immigration reform, so we can pull over barack and then deport him for being here illegally.

Aquagirl

August 27th, 2010
2:55 pm

Those right-wing christian types have Deal on a short leash. Sit up and beg for the treat, Nathan! Good boy!

People really want to vote for this idiot? He has to check in with mommy Sadie Fields or Georgia Right To Life on every detail. Those aren’t the people we need running the State unless you enjoy the Taliban.

Kamchak

August 27th, 2010
2:59 pm

“People really want to vote for this idiot? He has to check in with mommy Sadie Fields or Georgia Right To Life on every detail. Those aren’t the people we need running the State unless you enjoy the Taliban.”

I agree, sport

bill_in_atl

August 27th, 2010
3:11 pm

Where’s the backpedaling on this issue? I personally keep an open mind on as many topics as possible, but that doesn’t preclude me from having opinions on the matter.

This story is a piece of garbage and any real journalist should be ASHAMED to print it for public consumption.

I’m no fan of Deal and haven’t heard a lot of good about him, but this is pathetic.

sam the shame

August 27th, 2010
3:19 pm

The state must find ways to increase the funding of Hope scholarships. When they first began they paid approximately all of a qualifying students tuition. Board of regents greed has increased that tuition over 100% so Hope now pays less than 1/2. Casino gambling with revenue adding to Hope will help until our public colleges decide to again skyrocket tuition.

wanttohaveinput

August 27th, 2010
3:28 pm

I laugh everytime I go to Biloxi or Pearl River and see 10 packed church vans from Georgia. These are the same ones opposing things like this. I guess it is a case of NIMBY.

Roy B

August 27th, 2010
3:29 pm

Jim,

Keep up the good work. Sure is nice to have the Atlanta newspaper in my pocket, spinning stories in my favor. I will have you up to dinner at my house here soon old sport.

Best,

Roy

Lawrence

August 27th, 2010
3:30 pm

I am no big Deal fan, but we surely don’t wan to turn RObY Barnes loose on our state government, again.

David

August 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

So a prominent Christian Conservative activist calls and he changes his mind. Makes me believe he will change his mind on Sunday alcohol sales once Sadie Fields calls.

Doug Craig

August 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

Maybe its time to look at the Libertarian party. John Monds is a much better candidate then either one

Beelzebubba Demon of the South

August 27th, 2010
3:35 pm

Okay, I’m a little disappointed about the casino deal but still theres a chance to redeem himself. How does he feel about a lap dance?

Mr. G

August 27th, 2010
3:36 pm

Here’s a thought, why not let the Georgia voters decide if we want gambling, rather than leave it up to politicians like Deal? What are they so afraid of, that it might actually pass? I do agree with “wanttohaveinput”, when you travel to other states to gamble there seems to be a lot of church buses or vans….the same folks who oppose it here..

Road Scholar

August 27th, 2010
3:36 pm

“Robinson wouldn’t say whether Deal would sign a veto a casino bill if one landed on his desk.”

Why are you asking Robinson or Deal? Just ask the Christian Coalition! They’re the ones with their hand up his arse and making his lips move!

Base

August 27th, 2010
3:38 pm

Raw Deal will do it if he gets some of the proceeds!

Doug

August 27th, 2010
3:49 pm

The quickest way for Deal to lose in November is to hitch his campaign to the Religious Right. This state is in dire economic times and any free-market minded individual should be looking to create jobs and revenue. End the Sunday alcohol sales blue laws. Put casinos on a big November referendum and let the people decide if we want to legally gamble on draw poker and slots. Lock-stepping with the fundamentalists will do nothing but perpetuate the image of Georgia as the backwoods, Bible-thumping armpit of America.

ahhkee

August 27th, 2010
3:49 pm

who cares if he flipped on casino gambling. casino gambling is not going to affect my way of life. I don’t care if people gamble or not. i choose not to do somethings, like drinking alcohol, but i don’t say people shouldn’t do it. Still will vote for Deal come November.

The General

August 27th, 2010
3:51 pm

@ Aquagirl 2:55

Yeah, what she said. That about sums it up. Unfortunately, it’s not just Deal on their short leash. It’s numerous Republicans. When are we going to see a fiscally conservative yet socially moderate politician stand up to the Christian Taliban and tell them to go pound sand up their arse?

david

August 27th, 2010
3:58 pm

We need to legalize casino gambling and prostitution.

DJ Sniper

August 27th, 2010
4:08 pm

I swear, can Georgia get a governor who does not cower in fear of the Christian conservatives? These people won’t be satisfied until the state is officially back in the 19th century. They say that the people of Georgia don’t want things like casinos or Sunday alcohol sales, but if that’s the case, why are they so opposed to letting the people vote for it? Could it be that the people want the exact opposite?

Good ol Gal

August 27th, 2010
4:09 pm

What are the possibilities of sneaking Casinos in on a car inspection bill?

Keeping It Real

August 27th, 2010
4:11 pm

Gambling in undesirable areas of the state, such as inside I-285 that isSouth of I-20, would give “Non-Diversity” citizens with disposable incomes who obey the law and pay taxes a reason to go there.
Now, those people would likely get robbed, shot, beaten, raped, panhandled and/or stabbed while down there, when criminals know those citizens would be entering and leaving casinos with ca$h in their pockets, but they would at least have a viable reason to go there in the first place.

Good ol Gal

August 27th, 2010
4:12 pm

This could very well be a Win-Win situation.
Deal-Blackjack Deal-Blackjack

Indian feller

August 27th, 2010
4:14 pm

Deal? We don’t need no stinking deal!

Good ol Gal

August 27th, 2010
4:17 pm

david

“We need to legalize casino gambling and prostitution.”

I agree. I could use a part time job

Indian feller

August 27th, 2010
4:20 pm

How could somebody with a name like Deal be opposed to card playin’?

TRUTH

August 27th, 2010
4:20 pm

Nathan Deal, the real steal.

Kevin

August 27th, 2010
4:30 pm

Nathan Deal is such a crook – how anyone could even consider voting for is amazing to me. I would vote for Mickey Mouse over him. Roy Barnes is not my favorite, but will get my vote simply to say “Hell no you theif Nathan”

sam the sham

August 27th, 2010
4:30 pm

I’ve got 20 to 1 odds that it never happens. Anybody?

Indian feller

August 27th, 2010
4:33 pm

I’ll take some of that action Sammy. I’ve heard politicians are buying up property in their wives names that will make good spots for casinos.

Marlboro Man

August 27th, 2010
4:44 pm

Let the customers decide, not the governor. If no one goes they will close.

KP

August 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

I don’t think you have to be a Christian Conservative to be against Casino Gambling in Georgia. I think its a quality of life issue. If you need to see what Gambling does to a community, visit Atlantic City, NJ and step outside of the casinos and see if that’s the type of community you want to live in. Sure, the lottery is state backed gambling, but the constitution mandates that the funds go to education. And how many people do you know have lost their house, car, or job because they play the lottery. Now visit Las Vegas and ask the same question.

Taylor

August 27th, 2010
4:52 pm

Doug Craig has a great idea, look into Libretarian John Mond. Wish the press would include him.

Roy B

August 27th, 2010
4:55 pm

PS: Jim, can you be just a bit more subtle. I really appreciate y’all supporting me (as y’all do all Democrats) but PLEASE don’t be so obvious in your bias! I’m afraid these idiots, uh, I mean voters might catch on!

Love,
Roy (You know who!)

Lone Star

August 27th, 2010
4:57 pm

sam the sham

What time frame are we talking here? If that fits, I’ll make a large bet on that! I gotta see your money first, though.

[...] He has flip-flopped on casino gambling. [...]

Einstein

August 27th, 2010
5:03 pm

Who cares about Nathan Steal (or Roy Barnes for that matter), but does anyone care about the obscene waste in Washington that keeps on regardless of the party in charge? Why do the Fed Reserve and Chairman need to hold a “summit” at one of the most expensive places in the country? Combine this with Obama’s bi-monthly vacations and you wouldn’t even know we’re in the middle of a double dip recession. Not only do we (taxpayers) pay them huge salaries, but they must feel that it is their birthright to scr*w us out of even more. Who else besides me thinks that we’re certainly not getting our money’s worth either? Just my humble opinion.

Georgia female

August 27th, 2010
5:23 pm

Well, Mr. Galloway, is this all that you could find to use in an article? You are back in rare form with being anti-Nathan Deal. Typical AJC

Alan

August 27th, 2010
5:25 pm

Can’t understand how or why Ga Conservatives elected Deal over the much better candidate Handel. But given the choices of bad (Deal) or worse (Barnes), I like most Georgians will hold our nose and vote for Deal.

Double Zero Eightl

August 27th, 2010
5:30 pm

Nathan will say anything, just like Sonny did, in order to get elected. Remember the flag issue. You can expect more flip-flops from Nathan.
I am tired of these holier than thou politicians. Let the voters decide.
It is all about the money! If politicians were so concerned about the welfare of their citizens, they would be consistent and ban all alcohol sales on Sunday. They are not willing to give up the revenue
for Sunday alcohol sales at eating establishments, Braves and Flacons games, etc. They would prefer that people go to these establishments and drive home afterwards and risk putting more potential drunken drivers on the road. Again, I say let the voters decide.

Double Zero Eight!

August 27th, 2010
5:32 pm

I meant to say Falcons in my previous post.