Bill would use video gaming to help HOPE



ATLANTA - State lawmakers are looking at a massive overhaul to Georgia's gambling laws that could include video gaming and more money for the HOPE scholarship.

Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary first reported there could be a complete overhaul of how video games seen in convenience stores and gas stations are regulated in Georgia.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey, a Republican from Peachtree City, laid out the plans publicly on Thursday.  Ramsey told Geary the plan will crack down on illegal gaming while generating money for education.

"We've been trying to get our arms around these abuses. We see the negative impact it's having on the lottery," said Ramsey.

Under the plan, all legal machines that pay out prizes, not cash, will be hooked into the Georgia Lottery Corp. If a machine is not hooked into that system, law enforcement will know immediately it's illegal. 
"I think for the first time, we'll have the tools to really separate the good actors from the bad actors," said Jim Tudor with the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

Supporters of the bill say the lottery will receive 10 percent of the net revenues of each machine. Players will also be able to win lottery tickets as part of their prizes.

"For the first time, the lottery is going to get a percentage of play on these Class B games," said Ramsey.

Georgia Lottery Corp. president Debbie Alford told Geary, “It certainly won't hurt us. (It) will have a positive impact on our bottom line."

Ramsey said the bill does not bring legalized video gaming to Georgia.

"This doesn't make anything legal that's not legal today.  This just changes the oversight mechanism," Ramsey said.  "We need to do all we can to help HOPE and this is certainly a step in that direction."

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