Since 2015, the Georgia General Assembly has considered legislation that would legalize commercial gambling and require the construction of large gaming resorts. The casino industry is likely to continue pushing for legalization in the 2019 session, which begins January 14.
Why do Georgia’s arts and culture venues care about casinos? Our member venues compete in the free market every day for top talent and exhibits that keep patrons coming through our doors. We aren’t scared of competition, but the market is distorted when a state-granted monopoly enters.
Recent legislation mandates that casino resorts include performing arts facilities with the capacity to seat thousands. Casinos then use their monopoly status to box out existing venues by using predatory buying practices. They pay far above market rates for acts and demand exclusivity agreements in return for their big payouts, preventing acts from performing nearby for a certain amount of time.
Casinos then use these performances as a loss leader, luring people in with a show and then making their profit on the gaming floor. We have seen these predatory practices at work in other states that have recently legalized commercial gambling. We believe casino resorts with entertainment venues will have a detrimental impact on existing theatres, performing arts centers, arenas, and amphitheaters across Georgia.
The Coalition is adamant that performance venues in Georgia that earn their profit margins off drink and popcorn sales should not be forced to compete with monopolies that pay 2 to 3 times above market rate for popular acts. The only solution that will protect Georgia’s arts and cultural facilities is to prohibit or significantly limit the capacity of entertainment venues housed at casino resorts.