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Democratic governor hopeful Stacey Abrams, Gov. Brian Kemp disagree on gambling in Georgia

GEORGIA — The debate over gambling in Georgia is emerging as a big issue in the race for Georgia governor.

Gov. Brian Kemp says he still opposes gambling in the state, after his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams called to legalize gambling.

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“I’m calling on a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting and casinos in Georgia,” said Abrams in a speech on Tuesday.

With that announcement this week, Abrams dragged a new issue into the governor’s race.

“This will serve as a permanent source of revenue to underwrite broader access to education,” said Abrams of gambling and sports betting. “We can afford it and we must do it.”

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Abrams says she would use the money that casinos and sports betting generate to offer free technical college and restore Georgia’s Hope scholarship.

She says casinos would also generate more jobs in Georgia.

But in a speech at the capitol Wednesday, Kemp said the state’s economy is already in great shape, with more than 50,000 new jobs added over the past year.

He said he still opposes gambling in Georgia.

“Well, this is the thing about my position on that. It hasn’t changed,” said Kemp. “I’m in the same place I always have been. To be able to do that here it’s going to take a constitutional amendment so it doesn’t really matter what the governor thinks — you can’t veto a constitutional amendment.”

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There were attempts in the state Legislature to work toward legalizing sports betting in Georgia last year and this year, but both efforts stalled.

Kemp insists his administration found other ways to improve education that don’t involve gambling.

“We’re doing a lot of other things to get our kids educated,” said Kemp. “We used GEER funding and a lot of other things to help the learning gap loss, and so we’re putting not only a lot of money but also a lot of resources there.”

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