Georgia Fantasy Sports Bill Scheduled To Get House Committee Hearing Tuesday

Georgia Fantasy Sports Bill Scheduled To Get House Committee Hearing Tuesday
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

A bill to regulate fantasy sports operators in Georgia is apparently getting the fast track in the state’s House of Representatives.

House Bill 1329 is scheduled to get a hearing before the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee on Tuesday morning. That’s just a week after state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, filed the measure.

Stephens also chairs the committee, which will meet at 8 a.m. ET.

HB 1329 would require fantasy sports providers to apply for a license. Those operating in the state before Oct. 1, 2024, would be allowed to continue to operate until the state made a decision on the application. Large operators, defined as those earning gross revenues of at least $5 million in the previous 12 months, would pay $100,000 to apply and $1 million annually for their licenses. Operators not meeting that threshold would not pay a nonrefundable application fee and pay $5,000 each year for their licenses.

Fantasy operators would be allowed to take entries from eligible adults ages 19 and older. All operators would pay a 20% tax on their adjusted revenues.

Stephens’ measure faces a hard deadline of Thursday for it to pass the House. That’s the crossover date for this year’s Georgia General Assembly session, and any bill not passed by then cannot be considered for the rest of the session.

States Addressing Fantasy Sports

Georgia addressing fantasy sports regulations comes as other states have confronted some operators and have asked them to stop operating. That includes PrizePicks, an Atlanta-based DFS operator. In recent weeks, regulators and other officials from states like New York and Florida have asked it to cease offering its real-money, single-player fantasy contest, where players submit their entry consisting of athletes they select and whether they will reach a specific statistical threshold in their contest.

Players win their entry if they are correct in all or a certain number of their picks, depending on the contest they’ve entered.

Critics of the single-player pick ‘em games argue those DFS operators are offering the same game as sports betting operators that allow bettors to wager on player props. States that have pursued such fantasy operators also allow sports wagering.

Stephens’ bill includes language stating the definition of fantasy sports would include: “No winning outcome is entirely based on the score, point spread, or any performance of any single actual team or combination of teams or solely on any single performance of an individual athlete or player in any single sporting event. Such term may include contests wherein participants compete against each other and contests wherein only a single participant competes against a target score set by the fantasy contest operator. Such term shall not include any fantasy contest without an entry fee.”

That language is similar to verbiage approved by the New York State Gaming Commission last year as it updated its fantasy gaming rules. PrizePicks, which was not licensed in New York, announced earlier this month it would stop offering its real-money contest in the state and begin offering a similar free-play game. However, some in fantasy sports circles say that definition would not exclude pick ‘em style games since those games require players’ entries to include at least two athletes.

Messages to both PrizePicks and Stephens for comment were not immediately returned on Monday.

Georgia Sports Betting Still In Question

While Stephens’ committee takes on his fantasy sports bill, the House still has not acted on a bill that would legalize Georgia sports betting, which passed the Senate earlier this month.

Senate Bill 386, sponsored by state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, would allow for up to 16 sports betting licenses in the state. It would set aside licenses for the state’s five major professional sports teams based in Atlanta and for Augusta National Golf Course, Atlanta Motor Speedway, the PGA Tour and the Georgia Lottery. The lottery would also be able to approve licenses for seven other licenses through a competitive bidding process.

As it currently stands, SB 386 would require voters to approve a referendum in November to enact Georgia sports betting apps. The measure strictly covers legalization and would require legislators to also approve a resolution for sports betting to be placed on the ballot. While the bill only needs a simple majority to pass each chamber, the resolution must be backed by at least two-thirds of the majority in each chamber.

The accompanying resolution has yet to pass the Senate, although one did pass the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee last week.

Lawmakers in the Georgia General Assembly will continue meeting through March 28.



Steve Bittenbender

Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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