Could Horse Racing and Other Forms of Gambling Come to Georgia in the Near Future

Kevin Faigle

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

The Georgia state legislature is looking at the possibility of legalizing gambling on horse racing — and a decision could land in the hands of the voters.

Proponents say there is potential for a billion dollars in economic benefits, from job creation to a boost in the economy.

Dr. Marsha Loda is an associate professor at Augusta University’s Hull College of Business, and said if approved, it will likely take more than horse racing for a racing track to survive. Loda cites Kentucky as an example of what tracks are doing there.

“A lot of people think of Kentucky as the mecca of horse racing, but they don’t realize it might not exist without historical horse racing machines,” said Loda. HHRs are slot-like machines that let players wager on past horse races by a random number generator.

Many racing tracks nationwide have also expanded into casino and sports betting. While this isn’t what Georgia is looking to do initially, it’s not far off to think it could be on the horizon, with horse racing being the first step.

Loda, who was marketing director at Harrah’s Cherokee Resort in North Carolina, knows if casino gambling is approved in the future, the community will need to recruit out-of-town visitors to sustain it.

“You need to be able to import your people who are going to bet. That means you’re importing revenue. Otherwise you’re taking what’s already spent in your community and just slicing it up and giving it to different places. You’re not growing the pie at all,” said Loda.

She has also seen the benefits of legalized betting, citing added jobs a casino would offer.

One aspect of gambling that has exploded is sports betting, which more than two dozen states have legalized. Loda thinks if sports betting was on a ballot and went in front of the people to vote on, it would stand a better chance of passing.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Georgia pass sports betting. I think sports betting has been very well accepted. I think they would come much closer to getting more voters to approve it if it were sports betting than if it’s horse racing or casino gambling.”

Loda is a leading marketing expert helping businesses in the hospitality industry bounce back from crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and also has had extensive experience in the gambling industry. She is available to speak with media regarding the idea of gambling coming to Georgia.