Q: The General Assembly is debating casino legislation?
A: Yes. Two bills were introduced during the 2017 legislative session to provide a framework for resort-style casinos in Georgia. The details are subject to change, but in general, the legislation permits one large resort in the Atlanta-area and at least one smaller resort in another urban area like Savannah, Columbus, Macon, or Augusta.
Q: Why are cultural and performing arts venues concerned by the prospect of casinos?
A: By definition, resort-style casinos include amenities beyond a gaming floor. They include hotels, spas, high-end retail, fine dining, sports bars, nightlife and yes – entertainment venues. In fact, the legislation currently requires casinos to build a large entertainment venue and mandates that more than half of the resort’s revenue come from these non-gaming amenities.
Q: What will the impact be on arts and cultural venues in my area?
A: Without protections imbedded in the legislation, research suggests local venues will be negatively impacted; those in the shadow of these resort-style casinos will struggle to remain open. We’ve seen this happen in other states that have rushed to bring in casinos without providing proper protections for local venues..
Q: How can casinos have that significant of an impact?
A: Casino entertainment venues operate under a much different business model than your local venue. Casinos pay above-market rates for talent and use entertainment as a loss leader to lure patrons to the gaming floor. In exchange for their lavish payouts, casinos impose radius and time clauses, which prevent talent from performing at other venues within a 75-100 mile radius and from returning to the area for up to year or more.
Q: Has this happened elsewhere?
A: Yes. In a survey conducted by AMS Planning and Research in 2016, 70% of venues surveyed reported losing popular entertainers or concert acts to casinos. Local venues in Georgia are too important to risk without protections in the legislation. In New York and Massachusetts, where casino gaming was recently legalized, their legislatures included safeguards to protect local arts and culture facilities.
Q: How can we help to save our local venues?
A: The Coalition needs everyone who enjoys and benefits from local venues to contact your House and Senate members to let them know you support venue protections within resort-style casino legislation.