For the last several years the Georgia General Assembly has considered legislation that would allow for casino gaming resorts. We expect the casino industry to continue pushing for legalization in the 2018 session, which begins January 8th. 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. Our businesses and nonprofits aren’t scared of competition, but we do cast a leery eye on legislation that mandates casino resorts construct performing arts facilities with the capacity to seat thousands. Rather than facing off on a level playing field, casino resorts use their state-granted monopoly 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. It has been proven that these predatory practices have a detrimental impact on theatres, performing arts centers, arenas, and amphitheaters across Georgia if gaming is legalized and casinos are required to construct entertainment venues as prescribed by current legislation.
The Georgia Arts and Culture Venues Coalition has not taken a position in support or opposition to efforts to legalize casino gaming. However, we believe the casino destination resorts required by the legislation should be prohibited from constructing entertainment venues.