The city of Atlanta could soon give voters the right to voice their opinion on whether or not the city should be the site of casinos or other gambling facilities if the state allows legalized gambling in the future.

“This legislation is about putting power in the hands of the people,” District 11 Atlanta City Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet said in a news release.

“Our constituents should be able to have their say on this issue. Studies also show a correlation between providing ballot questions and increased voter participation.”

At its meeting Nov. 4 at City Hall, the council voted to approve an ordinance requesting the Georgia General Assembly statutorily allow the city to propose a nonbinding ballot question in a future election (Legislative Reference No. 19-O-1622).

The ballot question to Atlanta residents would be: “If the state of Georgia legalizes gambling, should Atlanta, Georgia, be considered a possible destination location?” The answer choices would be “yes” or “no.” Overstreet said she hopes to have the question appear on ballots in March or the next available ballot.

Legalized gambling in Georgia has become a hot topic in recent years, and representatives of casinos and the horse racing industry reportedly met with state lawmakers in October to pitch the idea.

Gov. Brian Kemp has said he’s against legalized gambling, but won’t stand in the way of a statewide voter referendum on the issue as long as all the proceeds from gambling go to the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship program. Since 1993 the state has had a lottery system that benefits the HOPE program.

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