For even the most staunch southern conservative, Dan O'Leary makes a convincing argument that gambling would be a good idea for Gwinnett -- and the entire state of Georgia.
O'Leary, a long time developer in the Atlanta metro area, is pitching the idea of a multi-million dollar development that would bring entertainment, restaurants, hotels, and gambling to a 122-acre site on the southwest corner of I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard where OFS is currently located in nearby unincorporated Norcross.
The gambling complex would feature a computerized scratch-off ticket type of gambling dispensed by VLTs (video lottery terminals) which look similar to slot machines.
And the state would benefit to the tune of $350 million in just the first phase of the development, later he projects another $500 million after phase two is complete in four to five years.
"We're bringing a trophy to Gwinnett," said O'Leary. "And it's projected to be one of the top five revenue-generators for the state."
The biggest benefactor would be education, points out O'Leary. He proposes that the gambling complex would be able to prop up the ailing Hope Scholarship. It's projected that by 2014 the Hope Scholarship will be reduced to 50 percent payout to students who qualify.
"This is a silver bullet for the the Hope Scholarship," said O'Leary at the October Gwinnett Municipal Association meeting at the Atlanta Hilton in Peachtree Corners.
"Gwinnett has the largest number of Hope Scholarship recipients according to the Georgia Student Finance Commission. This would bring a quick infusion into the Hope Scholarship program."
The decision will be up to the seven-member Georgia Lottery Board. But time is running out. O'Leary would like to have a decision by the end of the year.
Surrounding states have VLTs and are benefiting from the additional revenue notes O'Leary. "Georgia is losing $200 billion a year because people are leaving for gaming opportunities in Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and Mississippi."
O'Leary said OFS would remain on the site on 40 acres, the gambling complex would be situated on the remaining 122 acres. The development would bring an additional 2,500 jobs to Gwinnett.
"This is such a unique opportunity for Georgia," said O'Leary. "This would be a world class facility, not a neon glitzy pink flamingo complex but a Ritz resort-type of development.
"We're at the tipping point now. If this isn't approved, the Hope Scholarship fate is sealed," he said.