Pari-mutuel betting just reared its head in the race for state agriculture commissioner. This from Walter Jones of Morris News Service:
Georgia could add as many as 20,000 jobs and an economic impact of $1 billion by legalizing betting on horse racing, according to one major-party statewide candidate who threw his support for it today.
J.B. Powell, the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner, brought reporters to an Atlanta-area horse farm to make his announcement. He said it is the first of five proposals he will unveil to boost the state’s economy through agriculture.
Not only do the funds for building the $200-million tracks, the farms and training facilities come from private capital rather than taxpayers, the state’s HOPE Scholarship program would also take in a share of the betting proceeds as a new source of revenue, Powell said.
“They’ll see that it doesn’t cost the state anything,” he said of hesitant legislators. “It’s time that we find a new revenue source.”
Powell, who faces Republican Gary Black and Libertarian Kevin Cherry on the November ballot, said his support of giving voters a say on legalized betting will be a central feature in his campaign advertising.
Earlier this year, state Rep. Henry Geisinger (R-Roswell) introduced HR 1177 — the number was no accident. The measure would have pari-mutuel betting up for a statewide referendum this November. It did not get out of the gate.