Georgia Sports Betting Update: Lawmakers Going Down To The Wire For Possible Votes

Georgia Sports Betting Update: Lawmakers Going Down To The Wire For Possible Votes
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Measures seeking to legalize Georgia sports betting remained stuck in a House committee Monday afternoon, with votes on those measures potentially happening Wednesday afternoon – one day before the General Assembly session will end.

Lawmakers in the House Higher Education Committee, though, did reveal and discuss changes to Senate Bill 386, sponsored by state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford. That includes an increase in the tax rate to 25% as well as language to ensure any licensed Georgia online sports betting apps would not be able to deduct promotional spending to reduce their tax liability.

However, because no votes were taken on Monday, the full House will not be able to vote on the measure until Thursday. That will give the Senate little time to consider concurring with modifications made to SB 386, the legislation that would enact sports betting if a constitutional amendment is approved, and potentially with any revisions the House may make to Senate Resolution 579, the measure sponsored by state Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, that would put the amendment before voters on the November ballot.

“I cannot think of a better time to gauge the true interest of (sports betting) in the state of Georgia than that of a presidential election,” state Rep. Marcus Wiedower, R-Watkinsville, said. “I think we would all agree, and I think statistics will back me up 100% of the time, there’s no greater turnout than that of a presidential election, which is obviously my desire of getting a CA on the ballot this year so we can kind of put this to bed.”

Lawmaker Doesn’t Want To Play Oprah On Sports Betting Bill

Much of Monday’s discussion focused on what tax revenue generated from Georgia sports betting would cover, and some Democrats on the committee were concerned that money would not be set aside to cover free school lunches, prekindergarten programs, and need-based college scholarships.

Wiedower, who is shepherding the measures through the House, told his fellow committee members that he didn’t want to create a slippery slope for sports betting, citing a popular meme as an example.

“I didn’t want to turn this into an Oprah affair. Everybody gets a car,” he said. “Then what happens? Nobody gets really anything… I’ve said no to more people on this bill than I ever thought I would. Whether that’s from the operators or to any interest that has come in here, I kind of set the line, and I tried to tow it the entire time through this entire process.”

While Republicans have majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, Cowsert said Monday that SR 579 will need the backing of at least some Democrats because the Georgia Constitution requires any constitutional amendment referendum to pass with two-thirds support in both chambers.

It did in the Senate a month ago with a 41-12 vote. The House currently has 178 members, meaning it would need 119 yes votes in that chamber. Republicans currently hold a 100-78 majority over the Democrats.

If the House amends SR 579, the Senate would then need to concur with those changes. The Senate has 56 members, so the resolution concurrence would need at least 38 votes. Republicans enjoy a 33-23 edge over Democrats in that chamber.

Tick… Tick…. Tick…

Once again, Georgia sports betting proponents have to play the waiting game. In 2021, the Senate approved a referendum calling for a vote, but the House did not act before the session ended. Tables were turned the following year, with the Senate not taking up a House measure. Last year, the Senate did not move on a bill the House passed.

This year’s sports betting measures have been delayed for days as the House Higher Education Committee has had to reschedule meetings because the House has been working to pass other legislation before the session ends.

If the measures are approved by the committee on Wednesday, then the House Rules Committee will need to approve them to get a third reading on the House floor when it meets on Thursday. SB 386 will only need a simple majority to pass, but since it will include amendments, it will then have to go back to the Senate, which would have to concur with those changes that day.

In theory, a conference committee could hash out any differences in the 11th hour. However, at this stage, all parties would likely need to be on the same page by Wednesday for Georgia voters to consider the issue in November.

Stay with for all the latest sports betting news and the best Georgia sportsbook promo codes as soon as online sports betting is legal in the Peach State.



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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