After an early session defeat, it appears Georgia sports betting has been revived on the Senate floor in Atlanta.
Thanks to a late substitution by the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee, the future of sports betting in Georgia has been tacked onto a bill originally sought to designate the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby as the official one for the state.
Under the new addition to HB-237, sports betting in the Peach State would launch no later than early 2024. The bill would not require any amendments to the state’s constitution.
The committee's amendment to add wagering to the bill passed by an 8-1 margin Thursday, setting up a full chamber vote at some point next week.
Longtime sports betting and iGaming industry insider Brendan Bussmann, who serves as a managing partner of B Global, believes the future of Georgia sports betting is still rather murky, despite the late bill substitution.
“With its reintroduction in the Senate, you would assume they have the votes to at least get this through the Senate,” Bussmann told BetGeorgia.com. “Should this make it through both houses, it still will likely face challenges in the courts since this is not taking the constitutional amendment route that would solidify this as gaming has been approved in the past.”
None of the original Georgia sports betting bills in this session were advanced by March 6, the deadline for a bill to pass either the Senate or House to be considered by the opposite chamber this year.
Senate Resolution 140 came to a vote but failed to receive the two-thirds majority it needed (the vote was 30-26 in favor). House Bill 380 was never brought up for a vote. Another sports betting bill, SB 57, was voted down in the Senate on March 2.
That looked to be the end of sports betting for the year. But a few legislators decided to take a different route to the finish line.
What’s Included in Latest Betting Bill
Exact parameters on what is (and isn’t) included in the latest version of HB-237 are difficult to parse, given the state’s legislative website hasn’t posted the bill’s contents.
That said, we know the legislation allows up to 16 Georgia sports betting apps licenses, with tax revenues going towards the Georgia Lottery’s existing beneficiaries.
A 22% tax rate would be placed on sports betting operators, serving as a compromise between the 25% rate included in the House bill and the 20% Senate bill tax figure.
Whether HB-237 will avoid the same fate as its sports betting brethren remains to be seen.
For now, the substitute legislation remains the last hope for sports betting during the 2023 session.
“Someone behind the scenes pulled a rabbit out of their hat to keep sports betting alive,” Bussmann said. “The session is never over until its sine die.”
When sports wagering does become legal, BetGeorgia.com will be the place to be for Georgia sportsbook promo codes.