Your morning jolt: The return of video poker — or something like it

Georgia prosecutors are giving a suspicious eye to a bill that’s already half-way to becoming law, on the grounds that it might ease the way for the return of video poker to the state – or something like it.

But the author of the House bill, state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said his intentions are just the opposite – he wants to “eviscerate” a new form of gambling that has snuck into the state under the cover of “Internet cafes.”

He said he’s ready to discuss any problems with the measure, which is now in the Senate.

HB 164 passed on Crossover Day with a lopsided vote of 166 to 2. But the legislation moved through the House Ways and Means Committee rather than one of the two judiciary committees that prosecutors watch closely — one possible reason for the surprise it has prompted.

The bill allows the state revenue commissioner to levy a $75 licensing fee on coin-operated machines. But it also allows winners of amusement machine games to receive gift cards – redeemable for goods but not cash – of up to $5 per play.

“My understanding is, this is just another way to assist online gambling or video poker,” said Ashley Wright, district attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit. “I think everybody is starting to get organized and pay attention to this now.”

Ramsey was clearly surprised by the concern expressed by prosecutors.

Video poker machines, common in many convenience stores across the state, were outlawed in 2001 in a special session of the General Assembly. But another, slightly modified form of gambling has been popping up in cities across the state, including Atlanta.

“The main thrust of the bill is to deal with these Internet sweepstakes cafes that are popping up,” said Ramsey. “One has popped up in my county. They purport to be an Internet café, but they run one sweepstake every second on these computer terminals. It’s tantamount to a slot machine.”

Ramsey said his intention was to “regulate this mini-casino operation out of existence.” He noted that his bill would limit establishments to two machines per site. One café in Fayette County, where Ramsey lives, has 20.

”It’s sort of blanketing the state all of the sudden. The approach seems to be the same in every community. Go to the D.A., try to see the sheriff, see what they tell you they’re going to do, and how much resistance you’re going to get,” Wright said.

Wright said that — acting on her own — she’s in the process of calling her local legislators. We assume that Ramsey is on her list.

“There’s no intention of going backwards on our state’s gaming laws,” the lawmaker said. “In fact it’s just the opposite.”

***
Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston are reacting cautiously to talk of a legislatively-driven takeover of Atlanta Public Schools.

In interviews with Sandra Parrish of AM750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB, Deal and Ralston specifically addressed a bill just dropped by state Rep. Ralph Long, D-Atlanta, to permit the appointment of school board members by the Atlanta city council, mayor and the governor.

But their comments could also be applied to a separate effort contemplated by Mayor Kasim Reed. Writes Parrish:

Reed admits it is too late in this legislative session to take up the bill, but hopes it could be included in this summer’s special session on redistricting.

Deal is hoping the board will correct its own problems without such intervention.

“I think it’s something that we have given the system the opportunity to correct itself before legislative or constitutional action is taken,” said Deal.

House Speaker David Ralston told Parrish he is not opposed to a takeover, but he doubts that it will happen in this session or even during this summer’s special session on redistricting.

“I think the people of Georgia are ready for us to wrap up this session… they understand we’ll be doing the special session later in the summer, I don’t think they’ll want us to be here until Christmas,” he says.

***
Newt Gingrich will be making an appearance at the state Republican party convention in May, it was reported Tuesday. But he’s unlikely to be the only presidential presumptive at the Macon meeting. State GOP officials are sounding out other potential candidates as well, to gauge their interest.

***
This morning’s AJC Politifact measures U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s contention that President Barack Obama’s energy policies responsible for the increase in U.S. gasoline prices.

***
The city of Atlanta is stewing over the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau measured only a 1 percent gain in population over the last 10 years. But it could be worse, as noted by the New York Times:

Laying bare the country’s most startling example of modern urban collapse, census data on Tuesday showed that Detroit’s population had plunged by 25 percent over the last decade. It was dramatic testimony to the crumbling industrial base of the Midwest, black flight to the suburbs and the tenuous future of what was once a thriving metropolis.

It was the largest percentage drop in history for any American city with more than 100,000 residents, apart from the unique situation of New Orleans, where the population dropped by 29 percent after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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23 comments Add your comment

Mystic55

March 23rd, 2011
10:10 am

Because “the People of Georgia” really don’t care about the students of Atlanta and want to laugh as they lose their certification and thus their chances of going to college.

Of course in the same breath they will tell you that they are not racist, but that they merely believe that people from “lower economic zones” should not be able to tamper with “higher economic zones” which is why the oppose Marta expanding to their areas. It most certainly is NOT to keep those Black people from infiltrating their white neighboorhoods.

Of course…..if they really DO believe in equality of opportunity not equality of results and the “free market” as they claim they would care very much about the students of Atlanta.

But they don’t. And they won’t. The last time it took the federal government pointing a gun at them to make them allow white people and black people to sit at the same lunch counter.

This time they control the guns, the press, and the corporations.

The Confederacy has won.

Last Man Standing

March 23rd, 2011
10:28 am

Mystic55:

“Because “the People of Georgia” really don’t care about the students of Atlanta”

And they should care – why? Maybe they are too busy caring about the students in their locale. Maybe they think that the APS got what they asked for and what they wanted? If a group of people from outside of Atlanta had tried to interfere by telling Atlantans, “Hey! You are making bad mistakes!”, the response from the people of Atlanta would have been to tell the would-be advisors to take a hike. It would have been viewed as a racist intervention. Now people will be called racists because they did not intervene – and won’t now.

I guess there is no way to win.

It’s too bad the that the kids are the real losers, but apparently Atlantans are the people who don’t care.

get it together georgia

March 23rd, 2011
10:31 am

Georgia will be left in the dust when it comes to gambling/online gambling because of the right wing christians that are running this state into the ground. As you can see from the above article, people will always find a way around the gambling laws. As far as live gambling goes…..allow it all…slots, table games, poker. Or at the very least allow counties to vote on it like the sunday liquor law. Lottery monopoly listen up—LEGALIZING GAMBLING IN GEORGIA WILL NOT CUT INTO LOTTERY REVENUE AKA YOUR OUTRAGEOUS BONUSES.

take 10% off the top of revenue as a tax and make it go to HOPE. take the next 10% off revenue as a tax and let that go to other areas that need funding in the state. plus you’ll get at least some taxes from peoples winnings (at least those that file their income taxes correctly).

as far as online gambling (specifically poker), you can bet that georgia will do everything in its power to opt out of any federal law that passes to officially legalize online poker. Of course, people should realize that currently thousands of georgians everyday play online poker every day. no matter, georgia will shoot itself in the foot because of these right wing christian fundamentalist hill billys and miss out on millions in revenue once the feds pass a law officially legalizing poker (actually legalizing money transfer)….FROM SOMETHING THOUSANDS OF GEORGIANS ARE DOING FROM THEIR OWN HOMES EVERYDAY ALREADY!!!

Dave

March 23rd, 2011
10:52 am

Why don’t they pass a law to legalize horse/dog tracks, casinos and brothels. This will create money and jobs.

Inman Park Boy

March 23rd, 2011
10:58 am

I was born in Atlanta, went to school in Atlanta (including college at GSU)and moved OUT of Atlanta in 1977. I’m not surprised at the mess the city has become.

Last Man Standing

March 23rd, 2011
11:17 am

Inman Park Boy:

No one who has been paying attention is surprised. My late wife grew up in Inman Park and attended high school there also. It is a shame to see Atlanta in this state of deterioation and corruption.

double

March 23rd, 2011
11:23 am

Lost man I have to agree with you this time.

double

March 23rd, 2011
11:38 am

Against gambling,not from religious reasons.It’s addictive,most people gambling least afford.

free thinker

March 23rd, 2011
11:44 am

If gambling and marijuana are illegal, shouldn’t alcohol also be illegal? That just makes logical sense. If you disagree, I would like to hear why.

FYI, I think all 3 should be legal.

free thinker

March 23rd, 2011
11:47 am

double,

You can be against gambling. Nothing wrong with that.

But there is something wrong with you thinking the government should tell people they can’t do it.

Ashley

March 23rd, 2011
11:49 am

Surrounded by two southern states less than 4 hours away…North Carolina 2 casinos , Alabama has 3, if its a long weekend you can drive to Mississippi or Louisiana. Georgians can always spend their money in other states , but would’nt it be nice to see it spent in our state. Just raze Underground and put something useful down there. Remember its “for the people , by the people’.

get it together georgia

March 23rd, 2011
11:49 am

double—-
really? gambling in of itself is addictive? I think you need to educate yourself before making blanket statements like that.

Common Cause GA

March 23rd, 2011
11:52 am

Lots more information about the impact of the census and redistricting at http://www.CommonCauseGA.org.
Did you know there is a Redistricting Alliance?

get it together georgia

March 23rd, 2011
12:00 pm

ashley, you forgot about florida. they have dog tracks and poker that is legal currently. More importantly, they are working on passing a law to allow all casino games (minus sports betting of course) thus creating the Las Vegas of the east coast. The governor of Florida has already met with casinos in Vegas to discuss this going forward. I bet those uneducated clowns in the Georgia capital are completely unaware of this. Georgia loses out on yet more convention/tourist revenue. lets see do i want to have a convention in some ghetto downtown area with panhandlers and people wearing their pants around their ankles or in sunny floria on the beaches with casinos and a convention center? Atlanta loses AGAIN!

Ashley

March 23rd, 2011
12:24 pm

@get it together georgia…. You are so right , with all the state unemployment number being dismal, its hard to say when this knuckleheads will come into the 21st century. As Belle told Scarlet my money is just as good as yours. In other words Georgia money spends real good in Florida, Alabama, Louisana, Mississippi and North Carolina.. Oh by the way whats a convention(just kiddin’)

Jay

March 23rd, 2011
12:27 pm

Legalize it and tax it. If someone is too stupid to realize that the house ALWAYS wins, then they were too stupid to deal with a complex issue like money.

Jack Nine Offsuit

March 23rd, 2011
12:33 pm

“Ramsey said his intention was to ‘regulate this mini-casino operation out of existence.’ ”

And I bet this guy campaigns on a “small government, less regulation/interference with business” platform too.

Last Man Standing

March 23rd, 2011
12:37 pm

Dribble:

“It’s addictive,most people gambling least afford.”

And I’ll have to agree with you there.

speaking in tongues

March 23rd, 2011
6:32 pm

Sunday liquor sales, internet gambling, what is Georgia coming to? Won’t surprise me if the holy rollers try to perform an exorcism on the entire state.

Ashley

March 23rd, 2011
7:24 pm

Most casinos are very nice and orderly, riff-raff not allowed. Most thugs and criminals don’t rob casinos , and I havent seen they many georgians who are smart enough to beat the house. To all you two-faced christian, if the casinos employ pretty dealers and waitress I’m sure those comb-over viagra chomping preachers won’t be far behind. Remember those who scream the loudest against gambling are the first ones running to the black-jack table. Think of all the tax revenues the state would make and it might even revitalize scary downtown.

double

March 23rd, 2011
8:54 pm

money spent on gambling is money not spent for other reasons.I have no idea if money spent for gambling pays more taxes than money spent for other items.As for the government not saying you can or can’t either way is fine with me.I just do not believe you should spend money on drugs,alcohol,gambling,and the tax payer having to pay to rehab your sorry axx or support you or your family.

Booger Fling

March 24th, 2011
11:07 am

Mystic55… You’re a loser. People like you are quick to pull the race card when the card was thrown out many years ago. YOU are the reason. Let it go. Truth be known it probably didn’t affect you. Rarely does!

And why should I care about your student, Frank’s student, or Quantavius’ student? I have my own student to worry about! If the parents of these students cared about their own instead of running down the mailman every 1st maybe something will change.

Then again it’s the Confederacy. Get a life!