The possibility of sports betting in Georgia took another hit this week.
On Thursday, Senate Bill 57, the Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act that called for the regulation and taxation of sports betting in the state and the legalization of pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, failed in the Georgia Senate floor by a 37-19 vote.
What’s in Senate Bill 57
The bill was sponsored by Republican Senator Billy Hickman of Statesboro, who races and owns horses. The proposal called for the Georgia Lottery Corporation to regulate sports betting, with the state dishing out 18 licenses for mobile Georgia sports betting apps. The bill would’ve also permitted horse racing with part of the proceeds benefiting the state’s education programs.
But this vote does not mean final defeat for proponents of sports wagering in the Peach State. The issue is set to be revisited before Monday, which is the deadline for a bill to go through a legislative chamber before adjournment.
One sports betting bill that still has a chance before that deadline is House Bill 380, sponsored by Watkinsville Republican Marcus A. Wiedower.
That bill should see a vote on the floor after the House Higher Education Committee approved the measure by a 16-4 vote this week.
What is in House Bill 380
House Bill 380 leaves out horse racing and would allow only mobile sports betting. It calls for 16 mobile sports betting operators. Regulating sports betting would still fall under the Georgia Lottery Corporation and would carry a 25% tax rate.
The good news for that bill is it doesn’t require a constitutional amendment, as do other pending pieces of sports-betting legislation in the state. A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly’s two chambers before a public vote.
But without the need of a public vote, the process could be faster and improves the bill’s chances overall. It’s worth noting, though, Senate Bill 57 also did not require a constitutional amendment.
Past Efforts Fell Short
Georgia has made several attempts to bring sports betting to the state since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to overturn PASPA allowed states to decide for themselves whether to allow legal, regulated sports betting.
Supporters of sports gambling argue in favor of the economic impact it would bring to Georgia. Last spring, Senate Bill 142, which called for online sports betting, failed without advancing to the House of Representatives.
Stacey Abrams was one of the key advocates for sports gaming in the Peach State when she lost to Republican Brian Kemp in the Governor’s race last November.
At that time, BetGeorgia.com reported a Georgia News Collaborative-commissioned poll showed only 45.6% of likely voters surveyed were in favor of online sports wagering.
If the legislature does get wagering on sports to become law in the Peach State, check back with BetGeorgia for all of the best Georgia sportsbook promo codes that you’ll want to take advantage of before opening an account.