ATLANTA — A developer has lost control of a Norcross property where he hoped to build Georgia’s first gambling complex, even as the debate over expanded gambling continues.
Developer Dan O’Leary said he had extended the contract on a parcel near Interstate 85 seven times before.
“At some point you’ve got to say, ‘It looks like there’s not going to be any action in the near-term, so let’s give it a break for a while,’” O’Leary said.
O’Leary earlier proposed a $1 billion gambling center with video lottery terminals, calling it a way to increase revenue for lottery-funded scholarships and boost the economy. While the Georgia Lottery Board has the authority to approve video lottery terminals, board Chairman James Braswell has said he would not consider the project without the support of public officials.
“When you look at all the good this could bring and the mindset of voters, it seems like a no-brainer,” O’Leary said. “And for that reason we will not give up.”
O’Leary’s plan appears stuck. He said he cannot get a meeting with the state’s new lottery chief, Debbie Dlugolenski Alford, a former budget official for Gov. Nathan Deal.
“Unfortunately the lottery board seems to be stuck right now on this issue and I don’t know where it goes from here,” said state Rep. Ron Stephens, the chairman of the House’s Economic and Development Committee. He supports O’Leary’s proposal, but says “the timing might not be right for now.”
Even if O’Leary’s plan can’t move forward, opponents of expanded gambling don’t believe the question is settled.
“Gambling’s coming. It’s just a matter of when,” said Jerry Luquire, the head of the Georgia Christian Coalition. “It’s difficult for politicians to oppose the will of the people. But every year we delay it makes it a better year.”