Campaign touts horse racing in Georgia - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Campaign touts horse racing in Georgia

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ATLANTA -

A new advertising campaign is underway to bring horse racing to Georgia. The effort begins as supporters acknowledge they'll have to wait until next year to try to get a horse racing referendum on the ballot for voters.

Sponsors hope these billboards will be seen by more than a million people each day in metro Atlanta.

The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition wants to build support for a 2014 statewide referendum on the question of allowing betting on horse races.

Sugar Hill contractor Dean Reeves is part of the effort. He owns nine horses, including "Mucho Macho Man," a third-place finisher at the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

"We need the jobs. We need the industry and the state needs the money to help the HOPE scholarship and it's a lot of positives to it," said Reeves.

Georgia voters approved a statewide lottery 20 years ago. Since then, attempts to expand gambling -- including horse racing --have met with heavy resistance.

A proposed constitutional amendment would need approval in the state legislature, but lawmakers will not vote on it this year. State Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming) will try again in next year's session.

"We feel like that it's going to move forward at some point in time because the people, 72 to 75 percent of the people in Georgia  -- want to see a referendum placed on the ballot," Murphy said.

Murphy and other supporters dispute objections that horse racing would lead to casino gambling. He says money from horse racing could bolster the HOPE Scholarship, as well as infrastructure needs and perhaps provide some state income tax relief.

The proposed referendum on horse racing would require a two-thirds vote in the state House and Senate before it could go on next year's ballot.

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