Georgia is one of several states in the US without legal casinos and, based on previous discussions at the legislative level, it doesn’t appear that there’s a lot of enthusiasm behind the idea. That isn’t stopping the mayor of one Georgia city from embracing casino gambling, however. Macon Mayor Lester Miller has confirmed that he’s already laying the foundation to put a casino in the city of 153,000.
Macon Mayor Miller Mulls Casino Mall
Miller recently responded to questions as part of an ask-me-anything segment organized by the Center for Collaborative Journalism, a joint initiative run by Mercer University, The Telegraph, Georgia Public Broadcasting and local media outlet 13WMAZ. The Ask Mayor Miller program, specifically designed around Miller, received a question about Macon, officially called Macon-Bibb County, and the role it might play if Georgia lawmakers decide to allow casino gambling in the state. The mayor acknowledged that, should progress be made, he’s ready to embrace a gaming property as soon as the green light is given.
Georgia legislators are reportedly discussing casinos and other forms of gambling, much like they’ve done in the past. Those previous attempts, however, never gained traction. This time around, with the possibility that the Peach State might actually move forward, Miller is ready and explains, “Certainly not anything I’m necessarily advocating for, but if it does come to Macon, I’m going to want to know where it’s going to be at, so to have the largest impact that we would need to have.” He adds that he has already been in contact with casino owners and operators about setting up shop in the city.
Georgia’s Potential Casino Ambitions
Should the current layout of legalized gambling in Georgia remain intact, the state could see four casinos and two racetracks. Macon is reportedly on the short list for one of the venues, and Miller has laid out plans for a new Macon Mall that would include a casino, a hotel and more. The mall would also reportedly include space dedicated to both Central Georgia Technical College and Middle Georgia State University that they could use for film and art projects, according to the mayor.
The new development won’t cost taxpayers anything, Miller added. The Macon Mall is owned by Hull Property Group and the mayor has indicated that about 50% of the property will be donated to the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority. The remainder will be jointly owned by the city at a cost of just $1 a year, but Miller hopes it will own the property completely within six years.
Miller has reportedly already drummed up local interest from businesses and others in the concept; however, there are still several moving parts. The biggest hurdle will be whether Georgia embraces casino gambling next year. Even if it doesn’t, the Macon Mall project will move forward, but without one of its large anchors.