On Monday, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren made a renewed effort to persuade Georgia to allow a $1 billion casino to be built in Atlanta.
Murren was in Atlanta to tell local businesses and civic leaders that a Las Vegas style casino could boost the local HOPE scholarship program and improve the state’s economy citing the $600million a year Georgians spend at casinos outside of the state. He also said a casino would create approximately 4,000 jobs to complement Atlanta’s hospitality industry.
Small businesses and non-profits have voiced concerns a casino would absorb spending that would have otherwise gone to local events and businesses. An example of this was a non-profit theatre voicing concerns that casinos often rely on musical acts to draw crowds that they could not compete with.
Murren said his company funds many nonprofit arts groups and that local landmarks will “find us to be a great ally not an adversary”
A potential casino in Atlanta also faces opposition from many faith-based groups who are a force at the Capitol and have long been opposed to gambling.
“I think one of the most egregious things I hear in all of this is that it’s all for the children,” Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board commented, in reference to gambling addiction.
Murren said: “Georgia is very vibrant state, a large economy, diverse, it sits literally at the terminus of the entire Southeast. It has a tremendous airport, great corporate base already and it’s surrounded by gaming in one form or another.
MGM Resorts has yet to decide on a location but would want to be close to the city’s airport and convention areas.