Sports betting, horse racing, and casino gambling are all on the line in Georgia as the state’s voters could decide on the future of this industry in November. A constitutional amendment that would legalize betting on professional and collegiate sports has advanced in the House.
The Effort Is Nowhere near Its Completion Stage
Even though sports betting was expected to gain some traction in Georgia this year, the effort is far from its final stage. On Monday, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee gave the green light to amend Senate Bill 142 and Senate Resolution 135 and thus, legalize college and pro sports betting.
Now, the constitutional amendment is advancing to the state House, but the battle is just beginning. In order for these plans to materialize, they will have to pass in the House and the Senate with a two-thirds majority.
That may prove to be a bit of a problem, especially in the Senate as it has already rejected horse racing betting in mid-March. This time, the push to legalize sports betting is backed by professional sports teams from Atlanta. They consider that by legalizing sports betting, they will be able to boost fan engagement.
Senate Resolution 135 concerns a ballot question in which voters would remove gambling restrictions from Georgia’s constitution. Senate Bill 142, on the other hand, would ask voters whether they want to legalize online sports betting. It is worth noting that Senate Bill 142 excludes online casinos.
Proponents of legal sports betting suggest that the industry could bring around $100 million that could be used for various educational programs. Sen. Jeff Mullis is the original author of these bills.
Opponents Consider Gambling One of the Most Addictive Things that People Can Do
Rep Randy Nix (R- La Grande) opposes the legalization of sports betting in Georgia as he considers this activity to be extremely addictive. Other opponents state that gambling that is sponsored by the state itself could open up doors to other social harms. They used Georgia’s lottery as an example to show that people may exaggerate when placing bets – last year, the Georgia Lottery collected $5.7 billion in wagers.
Nix stated that Georgia is the number 1 state for doing business and legalizing any form of gambling is something that people do when they are desperate.
Rep. Ron Stephens (R- Savannah) considers otherwise. He said that people are already betting on offshore platforms and by legalizing sports betting, the tax money will be collected by the state itself and won’t go to third parties.
According to the proposal, sports betting would be taxed at 20% and bettors would have to be at least 21 to wager. The annual license fee would cost $100,000 and half of the money would go to HOPE college scholarships, child care, and subsidies by the state for prekindergarten. The other half would go to economic development for parts of the state that are financially distressed and part of the money could go to funding various sports events.