Developer's Casino in a Velvet Glove

J. Scott Trubey reports that documents, obtained under Georgia's freedom of information laws, revealed that Fleishman-Hillard (F-H) had been hired by Georgia Lottery to sell the concept of the state's first casino to legislators, business leaders and the public. Underground Atlanta, a shopping complex, was mentioned as a possible site for the introduction of a casino. Georgia law bans video card games, but video lottery terminals (VLTs) -- which the October 2008 F-H plan referred to as "Velvet" -- may not be. Georgia Lottery revenues are currently used to fund state educational programs, such as the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship Program. F-H proposed that the casino adopt the positioning statement that "Velvet secures HOPE for Georgia" and claimed that "it’s clear that the supply of HOPE and pre-K funds run the risk of falling behind demand." F-H proposed that the lottery's CEO, Margaret DeFrancisco, visit newsrooms to sell the proposed project. In January the operator of Underground Atlanta, Dan O'Leary, unveiled his proposal to Georgia Lottery for a $450 million redevelopment of the site, which includes a casino.