A special Senate committee that was assembled to tackle a sports betting initiative convened over the weekend. The panel, composed of Georgia lawmakers, resurrected a sports betting bill and gave it the green light to move forward.
The hope is that by legalizing sports betting, the state will be able to increase tax revenue and recover from the economic downturn that the virus has caused. This will in turn help consumers, many of whom already wager on sports anyway, see some of that money return back to them.
The Senate Special Judiciary Committee met and approved a piece of legislation that deals with mobile sports betting in the Peach State. According to the terms of the sports betting bill currently being mulled over, the Georgia Lottery would oversee sports betting.
All revenues generated through taxing is slated to go to the state’s HOPE Scholarship, which started in 1992 by then governor, Zell Miller. The HOPE scholarship awards qualified Georgia students with scholarship money to go towards undergraduate and graduate college degrees. Georgia State Senator Burt Jones, a Republican from Jackson, Georgia, has been instrumental in forwarding sports betting initiatives.
The Amended House Sports Betting Bill 903 Now Has Bipartisan Support
Senator Jones has been working on the sports betting bill known as House Sports Betting Bill 903. He has had to make various amendments to the original form so that the bill has support from both sides of the aisle.
Jones had admitted, “This hasn’t been easy. Each side has put a fork in the sand, and did not want to budge. I think due to the financial devastation the coronavirus caused to the state, any way to earn revenue for the state has to now be looked at very differently.”
Jones said that “allowing the people of Georgia to make legal bets on various sporting events, will add much needed money to the HOPE Scholarship, and some money also will go to pre-kindergarten programs like Head Start.”
Jones also said, “The only way to keep that program viable for years to come is to do one of two things: cut the cost of things or find more ways to generate revenue.”
The senator told the committee, “We have to look at this very realistically. Any state that has adopted legal sports betting, has been successful and raised money for the state programs.”
Illegal Sports Betting In Georgia Makes Nearly $2 Billion, According to Jones
Senator Jones was also armed with some disturbing facts for the committee. He told his colleagues that almost $2 billion is illegally generated on sports betting in the state. Jones said, “To get the industry out of the hands of bookies and other incendiary players will make it legal and safe for players to engage in it.”
The senator added, “Having all of the revenue being in the hands of people that are not required to report numbers or pay taxes clearly makes no sense and is not helpful.”
“The money is there,” Jones added. “How much longer are we going to let that money just disappear?”
Jones said that “Illegal betting is done in the shadows on the black market, and there is an inherent danger when anything is done on the black market.”
The bill is expected to move forward and be on the ballot in November.