Your morning jolt: Developer says casino question, but not his project, doomed to failure

The following statement arrived out of the blue on Monday from Atlanta developer Dan O’Leary, who wants to harness the Georgia Lottery as the engine to drive a vast entertainment and gaming complex in Gwinnett County:

“Recently, Republican officials decided to put a casino question on the July primary ballot. Our group did not advocate to have this placed on the ballot, nor do we support the question.

It is a flawed question and does not accurately ask voters about our project. To truly gauge public sentiment on the issue of gaming, the real question is: ‘Are voters in favor of the Georgia Lottery expanding with [video lottery terminal] games in a single controlled environment to save the HOPE scholarship?’ This question gets to the heart of the issue. It’s not about casinos; it’s about saving HOPE.

“Our proposal to build a mixed-used entertainment complex in Gwinnett County will bring new revenue to fully fund the HOPE scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs for many generations to come. This can be accomplished through a simple expansion of the existing gaming options operated by the Georgia Lottery by placing Video Lottery Terminals in a secure destination venue.

“Given that this ballot question does not accurately portray our project, we fully anticipate that the voters will vote against it.”

In a phone conversation, O’Leary said he’s been getting more and more calls from journalists as we creep toward the July 31 deadline. “We kept getting this question and it seemed that we were behind it,” he said. (And no, he’s made no contribution to the state GOP that might be interpreted as a quid pro quo.)

But there’s another reason that O’Leary is speaking out. If that question on the GOP ballot should fail, he doesn’t want his group’s project tied to it. The word “casino” implies roulette wheels, poker and craps tables, and blackjack dealers. “Our project is not casino gaming. Casino gaming is illegal in the state of Georgia,” O’Leary said.

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Speaking of ballot questions. According to GeorgiaPundit.com, W. Pitts Carr, attorney for the Transportation Leadership Coalition – which opposes the sales tax on the July 31 ballot – has taken a step that might be considered a prelude to a lawsuit.

Carr has sent a letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp, demanding to know the origins of this preamble to the transportation sales tax question: “Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”

Writes Carr:

We would very much appreciate the earliest possible explanation as to the following:

1. Who drafted the introductory language?

2. Under what authority is it claimed that the language may be placed on the ballot?

3. Were private concerns involved in the preparation and submission of this language?

4. The identity of such private entities.

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The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at tea party activist Debbie Dooley’s contention that “statistics show that more people at this time telecommute than they ride carpools, mass transit, bicycle or walk.”

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The largest challenge to the transportation sales tax referendum in metro Atlanta is the fact that it’s taking place three years into an anti-tax, tea party movement. Here’s how one pro-tax group in Troy, Mich. , tackled the problem with reverse psychology:

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In an interview with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM), House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, objected to a deal that’s on a table somewhere in the state Capitol, which would grant MARTA a three-year reprieve from a state-imposed restriction on how it spends its sales tax revenue – in exchange for more north Fulton County clout on the transit agency’s governance board. Said Abrams:

”If the deal on the table is a temporary freedom from restrictions for a permanent change in structure – absolutely, that’s a non-starter. That was the deal that was presented at the end of the legislative session, and in fairness, it was not only Democrats but Republicans who opposed that….

“A wholesale turnover of governance structure to communities that have traditionally shown some hostility to MARTA, turning over that structure, and then saying we’re doing that change for a temporary relief of artificial restrictions that we have put in place – it’s saying, if you will cut off your own arm, we will take off the handcuffs. That’s a very poor deal for anyone to be asked to make.”

As for promises that the creation of a state-operated, regional transit authority will make all concerns moot, Abrams said that Fulton and DeKalb counties have heard that talk for decades. So far, it’s been nothing to bank on.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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29 comments Add your comment

ByteMe

July 3rd, 2012
8:45 am

As for promises that the creation of a state-operated, regional transit authority will make all concerns moot, Abrams said that Fulton and DeKalb counties have heard that talk for decades. So far, it’s been nothing to bank on.

What are they waiting on?

BOB FROM ACCOUNT TEMPS

July 3rd, 2012
8:58 am

Is Mr. O’Leary ready to go forward with his project without the lottery video component?

td

July 3rd, 2012
9:03 am

Appears the Dems are more worried about the control of handing out jobs at MARTA is more important then making the system more viable.

Sue

July 3rd, 2012
9:13 am

td,

You need a high fiber diet.

Centrist

July 3rd, 2012
9:15 am

Casino gambling wants to change the ballot question “to save the Hope scholarship” just like our Secretary of State inserted his garbage “create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight” on the TSPLOST ballot. Maybe Obama can get “Vote for me to save the world from Satan Romney”.

Glad that jgalloway mentioned the effort to stop the TSPLOST ballot preamble tampering – a day late after I entered it in two of his previous blogs.

MARTA has been a corrupt piggy bank since its inception, and the biggest reason why no other counties would consider getting involved. NOTHING has changed.

Real Athens

July 3rd, 2012
9:25 am

“Appears the Dems are more worried about the control of handing out jobs at MARTA is (sic) more important then (sic) making the system more viable.”

Please provide proof of your illiterate statement — the Democrat claims, that is — you prove your illiteracy every time you post.

Love me some Reagan

July 3rd, 2012
9:30 am

Real Athens

You are talking to td; long on rhetoric but short of fact.

Same mo he has on Bookman and Wingfield’s blog.

Not sure how many local and national pundits he listens to or right leaning commentary he reads, or if he does at all, but at any given time he is pretty much just parroting what they say. Chicken or the egg, I guess. Is td mimicking them or are they mimicking td?

Jason

July 3rd, 2012
9:43 am

Dan O’Leary has been in charge of Underground Atlanta for more than a decade. That dump has gotten only worse and worse since then. Do you really want someone who is worse than government in charge of gambling?

Jason

July 3rd, 2012
9:50 am

Real Athens, the new right wing talking point is that Cobb and Gwinnett have long been begging for mass transit but the black power structure in Atlanta has worked with all their effort over the years to block it in order to keep whites from having any control over transportation. It’s a silly revisionist view and you don’t have to make much effort in the way of research to find old newspaper articles quoting elected officials and members of the public in those counties opposed to mass transit on racial grounds but that’s modern politics for you. The talking points have been issued and now the right wingers will claim from now until eternity (or until new talking points are issued) that automobile dependent sprawl was created by the all powerful black political machine over the continued objections of the good God fearing white minority. But as long as it helps defeat the Chamber of Commerce written TSPLOST suburban rescue plan, let them continue to paint themselves into a corner.

td

July 3rd, 2012
9:53 am

Real Athens

July 3rd, 2012
9:25 am

“If the deal on the table is a temporary freedom from restrictions for a permanent change in structure – absolutely, that’s a non-starter.”

I guess the only proof to you would be for the mayor to come out and say control of MARTA and the air port is the way he stays in power by giving all his cronies the jobs and contracts. Well guess what. It is not going to happen and all you have proven is that you are either a political hack for the democratic power structure or ignorant to politics?

Real Athens

July 3rd, 2012
9:54 am

At least the 70’s Underground Atlanta dump was more fun. Now it’s like an unused, deteriorating mall.

If O’Leary can wrap the gambling question with words like “heritage”, “freedom”, “free market” etc., ad. nauseum it will pass in Gwinnett County.

Marlboro Man

July 3rd, 2012
9:56 am

Untie the knot !!

Real Athens

July 3rd, 2012
10:03 am

Jason – I grew up in Gwinnett County and watched it paved over, and over and over to the enrichment of the feudal landowners/developers/commissioners and friends of the Georgia road building machine — Snell, Puckett, etc.

Now that is an unlivable, traffic, clogged quagmire all those folks have moved north to Jackson, Hall and points further.

Follow the money T-SPLOST is just another way to repay the folks who keep our elected officials in office. The same fols who ruined Gwinnett and Cobb.

Yawnnnn

July 3rd, 2012
10:07 am

Jim, this really wasn’t that much of a “morning jolt.” I feel so empty inside now.

Shar

July 3rd, 2012
10:30 am

I hope that you will report Brian Kemp’s response to the TLC’s queries as soon as they are issued. Should be very interesting reading.

And with electronic voting, surely getting rid of that biased, lying preamble shouldn’t be too difficult?

Cutty

July 3rd, 2012
10:43 am

Um, td- The City of Atlanta, nor the Mayor, has any control over MARTA. MARTA was created by the General Assembly and is overseen by MARTOC. You’re only proving everyone right about how delusional you are with your ‘facts’.

Danny O

July 3rd, 2012
11:07 am

Jim: Please be careful not to associate poker too closely with slots, craps, roulette, etc. Poker is a skill-based game in which players compete against each other, not against the house. The house just takes a cut of most pots to as a charge for providing the space and the dealer. (Much like a securities broker charges a fee for a stock trade made between two investors.) Over time, the better players will win, the weaker players will lose.

Many states recognize this distinction and allow poker while prohibiting slots and table games played against the house. Our neighbor to the south is an example. If Georgia would license a few poker rooms around the state, HOPE and pre-K could get a dollar (or several) out of every pot that is played.

Any expansion of gaming should include live poker. There are a number of poker players in Georgia who have no interest in video lottery terminals and will continue to travel out of state to play the all-American game if Georgia doesn’t allow for a few card rooms.

Marlboro Man

July 3rd, 2012
11:19 am

Trafic knotted up —- untie that knot !!!

Centrist

July 3rd, 2012
11:37 am

Marlboro Man posted “Trafic knotted up —- untie that knot !!!”

Good idea, but infrastructure like roads, schools, water/sewer is a standard function of government. Georgia collects increasing income, property, gasoline, ad valorum/auto registration, and sales taxes to run government – but has reneged on its primary function of maintaining the infrastructure. We should not grant a new, added tax that will get skimmed, pays back campaign donors, and lead to unrestrained development straining our feeble infrastructure even more. We must force our representatives to re-align the priority list to put infrastructure higher up.

Marlboro Man

July 3rd, 2012
11:40 am

Life is too short to sit in traffic — untie that knot !!!

Shar

July 3rd, 2012
11:52 am

@Marlboro Man – Great idea. What a shame that the TIA will do absolutely nothing to affect traffic flow at a cost of $7+billion tax dollars.

If you don’t like sitting in traffic, join a carpool, take public transit and demand planning that benefits those who need to move through the region rather than whose who prey on it.

Marlboro Man

July 3rd, 2012
11:57 am

Untie the knot, spend for a better future.

wes snipes

July 3rd, 2012
12:24 pm

always bet on black.

[...] Your morning jolt: Developer says casino question, but not his project, doomed … – Atlan… [...]

Kris

July 3rd, 2012
1:43 pm

Casino gambling in GA. To save HOPE… This same type of SCAM like the t-spLOST is being sold to the citizens of GA.? Wonder if Tom Graves would be interested in some property I have?
TO save HOPE

A. Dismantle the Board of Regents. Fire every one down to the Presidents and vice presidents. Throw Enroll Davis out too.
B. Have the board of regents become elected officials’.
C. Control spending (salary caps on all administrators).
D. Term limits on all regents. And Legislators ..
E. Stop building un-needed buildings. CONTROL Tuition Hikes and silly FEES.

College presidents make in excesses (for smaller 2-4 yr colleges 200K + VP make 100K+
Most College police officers’ make 28K (twenty eight thousand ) and carry a GUN…think on that one

Georgis NEEDS JOBS not 5 0r 50 here and there over the span of years.

JOBS NOW
Impeach DEAL.
VOTE NO ON Casino gambling
Heck if it’s on the ballot just VOTE NO.
Vote hell Noon tspLOST

Danny O

July 3rd, 2012
2:03 pm

@ Kris:

Erroll Davis is no longer connected to the Board of Regents or the University System of Georgia.

Question Man

July 3rd, 2012
2:16 pm

Isn’t Atlanta in trouble if Stacey Abrams is its chief strategist and negotiator in the legislature? Wouldn’t she sell out the public for a song?

Danny O

July 3rd, 2012
4:12 pm

What gives you that impression?

Edmund Ruffin

July 4th, 2012
7:18 am

Casinos benefit no one except those who own casinos. No more gambling.