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Gov. Deal says no to casinos

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

ATLANTA — A statement from Gov. Nathan Deal's office came Thursday after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported about a Georgia Lottery Corp. study that suggested three casinos with a total of 10,000 gaming terminals could generate nearly $1 billion per year in revenue for the state as soon as 2014.

Deal is focused on other findings in the report concerning illegal forms of gambling in the state, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said in a statement.

In August, Deal ordered a crackdown on illegal online gambling at Internet cafes. Robinson said Thursday that Deal has repeatedly said “there will not be an expansion of gambling under his watch.”

“[The governor] has focused his attention on the report’s finding that there are 10,000 illegal slot machines operating in Georgia, with each machine taking in approximately $200,000 and paying out $100,000 per week,” Robinson said. “The governor is concerned that these illegal machines divert millions of dollars away from the Georgia Lottery and the struggling HOPE [scholarship] and pre-k programs."

To cope with lottery revenue being outstripped by demand, lawmakers reduced the reach of the popular college scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs starting this school year.

The $91,000 study commissioned by the lottery examined the revenue potential for metro Atlanta sites in downtown Atlanta, Lake Lanier and Clayton and DeKalb counties.

The report also outlined potential for Savannah and Jekyll Island.