Would casino help or hurt small Ga. town? The debate continues

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:44 AM EST
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MIDWAY, Ga. (WTOC) - Casino gambling has been a hot topic in the state Legislature for the last few years and this year, lawmakers think they may be able to legalize it.

Midway could be home to a new casino if gambling is approved.

Dozens of Liberty County residents met recently with state Rep. Al Williams‚ who supports legalizing casino gambling, on why they’re against it.

Removing Midway from the conversation — it’s what some Liberty County residents like Sheila McGinley want after lawmakers and community leaders have set their eyes on possibly building a casino in the small town.

“The bad sides over time will overcome the good sides because with this casino there you bring drugs, you bring prostitution, you bring human trafficking, you destroy the natural habitat for the wild and the list goes on and on,” McGinley said.

McGinley along with many residents expressed their concerns to Williams.

“You are looking to put this casino on the eastside of I-95 and as far as I can tell, have not asked a single one of us over here how we feel about it,” said one resident.

From increased crime to environmental protection, residents made it clear a casino is not what they want to see.

Williams says other areas are being considered for the site but wants the county in the conversation.

“I just want Liberty County to be represented when we talk about economic progress,” he said.

Casino gambling would have to be legalized by a two-thirds vote in the state legislature. Then it would require the signature of the governor and voter approval by ballot referendum.

Williams says he hears residents’ concerns and advises those who oppose like developer Clay Sikes not to vote for it.

“It certainly brings with it tremendous economic opportunity. It brings with it jobs. It’s really hard to argue against that, but it’s more about where than anything else,” said Sikes. “And our big question is the city of Midway the best place for this? Is the pristine Georgia coast the best place for a casino?”

House Resolution 30 is being sent to the Regulated Industries Committee for further consideration.

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