The state of Georgia has conservative laws when it comes to gambling, but those laws are being challenged at this time. Lawmakers in the state continue to look to legalize sports betting, and there is now plenty of optimism that a bill will be passed.
There are two bills that are up for consideration, with one being presented in each house. The Georgia State Senate is set to meet in the coming weeks to take a closer look at the pieces of legislation.
Both bills are similar to each other and the Georgia Lottery would be put in charge of overseeing and regulating the newly created industry. The legal sports betting age will be set at 21 years of age, which matches rules in most states throughout the US.
Both bills allow for betting on both professional and collegiate sporting events, but in-state college teams would be off the board. This, too, follows a similar path taken by other states as the NCAA has opposed legalized sports betting.
Currently, there would be at least six sports betting licenses available, and it appears that online betting will be the only option for local bettors. That could change in the future, however, but Georgia is looking to follow the lead of Tennessee as that state has had tremendous success in the industry.
The biggest difference in the bills is in the amount of tax revenue that would be collected: the Senate bill proposes a 10% tax on sports betting revenue, while the House Bill is asking for 14%.
Ron Stephens is the lawmaker that sponsored the house bill, and he has expressed optimism that at least one of the bills will be advanced forward. The Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities will have a look at the Senate bill this week, and a simple yes vote would push it forward even further.
Professional Sports Teams Supporting Cause
While the sports betting legislation has plenty of support from state lawmakers, the biggest push could be coming from professional teams in the state. The Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance has been working hard to get sports betting legalized, and its efforts appear to be working.
The Alliance is working closely with lawmakers in the state with the aim of ending the practice of illegal sports betting in the state. According to a recent study, the Alliance predicts that close to $1.5 billion is illegally wagered on sports in the Peach State.
The Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and the Atlanta United of Major League Soccer are all a part of this Alliance. These professional teams could also benefit financially if they are given the opportunity to offer sports betting at their stadiums.
Other states in the United States have seen sports betting backed by professional teams, and it has allowed the US industry to continue to grow and expand at a rapid rate. With a little luck, betting on the Atlanta Falcons in the 2021 NFL season could become a reality.
Is a Change to the constitution needed?
While there is support to move forward with the legislation, the question is what path will lead to a regulated sports betting market in Georgia the fastest.
As C.J Fisher, Partner at Fox Rothschild, points out: “It is important to note that gambling expansion in Georgia generally requires an amendment to the Georgia state constitution through a referendum, and the earliest that that could occur is November 2022.”
The alternative looks to be legalizing sports betting through the Lottery.
“By authorizing sports betting through the Georgia Lottery and regulating sports betting similar to existing lotteries, however, the Georgia legislature’s thought process is that they may be able to bypass the need to do that”, Fisher told USBettingReport.
Needless to say, we are watching the developments in Georgia closely this year, with the hope that it becomes another state where bettors have options to bet locally, at least on their mobile phones.