Deal vows not to let Indians build a casino

ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal said today he opposes Indian tribes having casinos in Georgia and that he’ll block them if they try.

“I’m not in favor of that,” he said.

The comments came in an interview with Morris News Service when he was asked about legislation that failed to pass Thursday when the General Assembly wrapped up its 2011 regular session.

Minutes before the final gavel, Sen. William Ligon, the author of the proposal, announced to the Senate that he wanted their agreement to withdraw his amendment.

“We’ll just have to work on it next year,” said Ligon, R-Brunswick.

He had convinced the Senate Tuesday to attach his amendment to a House bill about contracts. The House bill was sponsored by Rep. Willard Wendell, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that stalled Ligon’s stand-alone bill on the tribal land sales.

Ligon’s wording would have required two-thirds of the General Assembly to ratify any agreement the governor makes with a tribe seeking to buy land to build a casino. He said he drafted it because tribes are considering property in his district and in the Columbus area.

In the end, the freshman lawmaker bowed to the veteran Willard and convinced the Senate to pass the chairman’s bill without the Ligon amendment.

Even without the legislation, a tribe faces a hurdle in getting around Deal.

“My understanding of that is it’s an issue that comes through the (U.S.) Department of the Interior and that they give great deference to the opinion of the governor of the state as to whether or not the governor would be supportive of such activities, and I would not be supportive of that,” Deal said.



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