Stacey Abrams, the high-profile Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia, has become the biggest advocate for Georgia sports betting.
Abrams, who is on the campaign trail ahead of the November elections, recently went public with a plan for legalized sports betting that would fully fund need-based financial aid and make technical college free to attend.
She told WRDW, a television station in Augusta, that the state "must provide a pathway for students to secure higher education,” and right now, Georgia is the "only state in the south without need-based financial aid."
More Abrams: "My plan will change that while providing a permanent stream of revenue that can be used to provide critical financial aid and make technical college free, all without raising taxes and while we grow our economy.”
This isn't Abrams' first go at the Georgia governor position. She previously ran in 2018, only to be narrowly defeated by current Gov. Brian Kemp.
While the legalization of Georgia sports gambling appears to be a ways off, operators like FanDuel Sportsbook already have established a presence in the Peach State.
Abrams Faces Uphill Battle
Unfortunately for Abrams and potential Georgia sports bettors, Democrats face an uphill battle when it comes to both election and legislative decisions this fall and beyond.
Ladbrokes, which offers odds on a variety of political wagers, currently has Abrams' odds to win the Ga. seat at 10/3, a longshot for a state that is traditionally Republican.
But Abrams believes her commitment to legalized gambling, and more importantly, its repercussions for financial aid, will close that gap in due time.
Abrams in a statement said: "(I) will support legislation enabling online sports gaming and a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Georgia, as a permanent source of revenue to underwrite broader access to education. ... Legalizing online sports betting would attract more investment and increase revenue for the state. This could be done immediately through legislation even while legalizing casino gambling would require a change to the constitution. Moreover, online sports betting could immediately generate revenue until casinos are fully developed and opened."
What the Experts Say
University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock said Abrams has always been able to "tap into the popularity of funding for education."
"It also ties into her history where she takes credit or claims that she saved the HOPE Scholarship back when she was a legislator," Bullock said. "So it's something that she can build on. ... It's also a way in which she can distinguish herself from Brian Kemp. Maybe try and peel off some support that would otherwise go to him from folks who would like to be able to bet on sports."
How crucial is Abrams' tie-in for sports betting to financial aid in the Peach State?
"That's what you have to do," Bullock said. "Education is something that Georgia leadership has been pushing for 60-70 years. ... People want to be known as 'The Education Governor.' There's no downside to that. So, I think that makes it much more saleable."
Is Abrams the Right Person to Legalize Sports Betting in Georgia?
Is Abrams the right person to bring legalized sports betting to Georgia?
Bullock offered his take:
"Yes. Now she would have a challenge, in that if she becomes governor she'll be dealing with a predominantly Republican legislature. So even if she got universal support from her own Democrats, she'd have to take up some number of Republicans. But she probably could do that, I suspect."