Could Horse Racing Get Georgia Economy Galloping?

By George Eskola | WJBF News Channel 6 Senior Reporter
January 11, 2010

Augusta, GA—They are not horsing around; saying what’s needed in Georgia is a chance for people to bet on horse racing to bring needed revenue to the state.

“The conciseness has been raised in terms of para-mutual betting on horse racing because it is the golden cow,” says James Young, President of the Georgia Horse Racing Committee.

The Augusta-based committee has been advocating para-mutual betting for the past several years.

Thinking with its location near horse racing in Aiken, Augusta could be a prime location for a track, if state law is changed. But, this hasn’t been a subject prominent with most city leaders.

“This the first I’ve heard of it, today, but given the fact the state is going to be looking at billion dollar deficits now through 2013, it doesn’t surprise me there are groups looking to generate new revenues,” says Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Commissioner Joe Bowles is aware of the efforts of the horse racing committee and supports the idea of allowing betting to bring horse racing to Georgia, as long as the private sector is involved in building any race tracks.

“The Georgia Carolina Horse Racing Association has always said this is 100 percent a private investment. It involves nothing from the government except allowing them the opportunity to have horse races,” says Bowles.

But other city leaders are no so sure about hooking on to horse racing.

“I don’t know much about it; never been to one in my life. I don’t know if it could be something Augusta would support. It could at some point be something good with the TEE Center coming, hopefully in the next couple of years. We have to look at some avenues of generating revenues,” says Commissioner Corey Johnson.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be having that conversation in Atlanta but it sounds to me like it’s a long way from being a done deal” says Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Young says a bill will be introduced in two weeks and, since it would require a change in the Georgia Constitution, it would have to be approved by the voters.

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