With the massive growth taking place in the US sports betting industry, the state of Georgia is looking to join the party in 2021. A 37-page bill was recently introduced by Georgia lawmakers, and it could pave the way for legalized sports betting.
Representative Ron Stephens is the primary sponsor of HB 86, and the bill has bipartisan support. This bill has been titled the “Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act,” and it will be a piece of legislation that brings plenty of debate and discussion in the coming weeks.
Georgia is staring down a massive budget deficit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers are hoping that sports betting can bring some relief. Other states have been able to gain support for sports betting by pointing to the new revenue stream that would come from sports betting.
Under this proposal, the Georgia State Lottery would regulate and oversee sports betting, with funds going to the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K programs. There would be six online-only sports betting licenses available, and remote registration would be included under this plan.
HB 86 also includes the tax rate if sports betting was to be legalized, and all revenue would be taxed at a rate of 16 percent. A $50,000 application fee would be collected, and operators would have to pay $900,000 a year to retain that license.
Georgia has several popular professional sports teams that would help drive the industry, including the Atlanta Falcons. The Georgia Bulldogs would also be a popular betting option if betting on collegiate sporting events was allowed.
The Falcons were actually part of a group that attempted to support sports betting legislation efforts a year ago. The Falcons were joined by the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and the Atlanta United of MLS.
Professional teams and leagues have supported sports betting legislation in other states and have even allowed partnerships with sports betting companies. Legal sports betting helps to keep the integrity of games intact, and leagues are also getting some revenue from these partnerships.
Tennessee Off to Record-Breaking Start
If HB 86 is able to pass through both houses of the legislature, Georgia could look to the state of Tennessee for some tips when it comes to launching sports betting. Tennessee is the only online-only sports betting market in the US, and the Volunteer State set an industry record in November.
With a sports betting handle of more than $131 million for the first full month, Tennessee posted the highest-ever mark for an opening month. There were just four online sports betting options available in November, but the state took advantage of launching during the NFL season.
There is still plenty of work to be done by Georgia lawmakers first, and Governor Brian Kemp has been opposed to expanded gaming bills in the past. Kemp could ultimately veto any sports betting legislation, but the state needs a new revenue source.
Georgia could legalize and launch sports betting in 2021, but the next few weeks will be extremely important.