The push for Sports Betting in Georgia Shatters Into Multiple Pieces Once Again
A couple of states that are a part of the SEC were optimistic about pushing legislation that involved legalizing the sports betting operation. Chances of doing so in Georgia fell short once again.
What’s Going On in Georgia?
Several bills caught the attention of lawmakers during the last few weeks in Georgia, but any sign of hope has been halted in its tracks. SR 140, a constitutional amendment, failed in the Senate earlier Monday. SB 57 was voted down by the chamber last week. The last chance for HB 380 to advance late Monday night ended in a no vote.
The professional sports franchise called the Peach State advocated for HB 380 but failed. In the writing, it would have created 16 sports betting licenses in the state, of which nine would be led by the teams.
Throughout the legislative session, many experts believed that this initiative had the best opportunity to be signed into law because of the insane amount of support. During the pandemic, the owners of the professional teams expressed that legalized sports betting would bring more fans into the stands.
This year, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce was the catalyst that championed the bill. According to the measure, the chamber proposed a 25 percent tax rate and was overseer by the Georgia Lottery. The revenue generated from the potential operation would have headed toward public education.
The primary cause as to why many supported the bill was because it worked around the need for a constitutional amendment in the state.
The Next Approach Was Taking the Constitutional Amendment Route
Sen. Bill Cowsert’s SR 140 became relevant because certain Senate legislators believed that Georgia sports betting went beyond the scope of lottery games allowed in the state and thus required a constitutional amendment.
Bills that go through a constitutional amendment take longer to process because a referendum is needed, which allows a measure to appear in the upcoming election cycle. Regardless of the push, Cowsert failed to win over two-thirds of the chamber to push forward; 30-26.
Senator Brandon Beach proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 140 to include horse racing and casino gambling, believing that voters should have a say on all gaming issues. Cowsert referred to the amendment as a poison pill, but the outcome didn’t sway in the right direction.
Last week, the Georgia Senate rejected SB 57, which would have legalized sports betting and horse racing. SB 57, like HB 380, was not a constitutional amendment.
Does the Public Like the Idea of Sports Betting?
Gov. Brian Kemp stated that he would work with any sports betting measures as he rejected the idea in previous years. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, the support for sports betting based on the respondents went from 57 percent in 2020 to 49 percent in January.
Approximately 1.4 million transactions originated in Georgia between September 8, 2022, and February 12, 2023, according to GeoComply data. It was rejected immediately. On Super Bowl Sunday, GeoComply blocked approximately 28,000 transactions from Georgia.
The only state that borders Georgia that offers legalized sports betting is Tennessee via online. The only form for legalized sports wagering in North Carolina is available on two tribal land casinos that are located in the western part of the state.