The Georgia Senate voted Thursday to pass a bill that would centralize control and enforcement of video poker machines in the state.
The Telegraph of Macon reports (http://bit.ly/Xbo5QH ) that the Senate voted 35-16 to approve House Bill 487, which would transfer oversight and enforcement of video poker machines to the Georgia Lottery Corp.
Under the proposal, a share of the proceeds would be used to fund the state’s HOPE scholarship program. The measure has the support of Gov. Nathan Deal. The share being diverted to the HOPE program would start at 1 percent and increase to 10 percent over time.
“This bill makes nothing legal that is not already legal,” said state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, the bill’s state Senate sponsor.
Still, the vote followed nearly three hours of debate and nearly 12 amendments. State Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, lobbed a proposal to simply abolish the gaming machines.
“We ought to do away with these things and be done with it,” Williams said, adding that social damage caused by gambling outweighs the benefits of the HOPE program.
The proposed legislation would require stores housing video poker machines to award vouchers for merchandise and not cash, tobacco or alcohol.
The House last week approved a version of the bill. The state Senate will now send the proposed legislation back to the House to approve changes made in committee and on the floor.
Information from: The Macon Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com