MGM Resorts — known for lavish casino complexes such as The Bellagio, MGM Grand and Aria in Las Vegas and Beau Rivage in Biloxi — is considering downtown Atlanta for a $1 billion Vegas-style casino, luxury hotel and entertainment complex. The AJC speculates that potential sites for the mega-project could include the Georgia World Congress Center site, the Georgia Dome site and the Gulch (but what about our Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal?). MGM's interest, which it calls "preliminary," seems almost inevitable; after all, we have the world's busiest airport, conferences galore and lack of casino competition. Who wouldn't want to smack a casino right in the center of all that? A lot of people, that's who.
Casino gambling is illegal in Georgia and, thus far, the state has not allowed flashy casino concepts to change that. Proposals for casinos at Underground and in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties have all been shut down, and Governor Nathan Deal says that casino gambling is not going to happen on his watch.
MGM knows that the road to success is rife with obstacles though and has hired five lobbyists to pave the way. To move forward (assuming they decide to do so), they would need a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling in Georgia, a 2/3 vote from legislators, and a vote from the people of Georgia. If it gets to that point, MGM will, no doubt, point to the tens of millions of dollars the project would provide for HOPE scholarships and the 3,500 permanent jobs it would create. Opponents will likely point out that casinos have a bad habit of reducing property values, increasing crime and wreaking havoc on local economies.