Casino supporters hopeful after online lotto announcement

by: Jim Strickland Updated:


NORCROSS, Ga. - All Gwinnett County voters will have a voice on the issue of casino gaming during the July 31 vote.

Adding casinos to fund education is a choice Republicans can make in a nonbinding poll statewide.

In Gwinnett, where there's a plan for a billion-dollar gaming complex, Democrats also have a voice.

"We want to initially get the opinion of the people of our party and then take it to the legislature," party First Vice-Chair Steffini Bethea told Channel 2's Jim Strickland.

The question is simple: Would you support casino gambling in Gwinnett County?

"I like the idea," said Bethea.

Underground Atlanta owner Dan O'Leary, the man behind the lottery gaming complex proposed for Gwinnett, said he's also encouraged by the move to start selling online lottery tickets.

"The lottery is willing to expand gaming," said O'Leary.

Still, O'Leary wonders whether the plan is even farther down the proverbial slippery slope than his proposal.

"Think about what they just approved. All you have to do now is pull out a smartphone, and no matter where, you can start gambling," he said.

Online lottery gambling would be open to Georgians age 18 and older. O'Leary would turn away those under 21.

The lottery's new plans are designed to target tech-savvy young players who rarely carry cash.

That is one reason gambling opponents oppose online ticket sales.

"It's going to open up this game to a whole new set of people who would not have been exposed to gambling or encouraged to gamble," said Georgia Family Policy Council Vice President Eric Cochling.