Last November, Democrat Stacey Abrams fell in the Georgia Governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp by just over 7%. Abrams’ defeat was a blow to hopes for legalized Georgia sports betting since she was one of the key advocates for sports gaming in the Peach State.
Can Georgia get it done during this legislative session? The good news is that the wheels are already in motion.
Georgia state senators Billy Hickman, Freddie Powell Sims, Ed Harbison, Clint Dixon and Brandon Beach have introduced the Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act, according to WRDW in Augusta, Georgia.
The Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act would give Georgia residents the ability to make legal sports wagers online and would lead to the creation of the Georgia Sports Betting Commission, which would oversee the new gaming market.
The bill would have a 20% tax rate and would issue numerous Type-1 sports betting licenses to operators. Bettors would have multiple options for placing bets online with sports-gaming providers, or at sports-betting kiosks – the bill’s form of retail sportsbooks in Georgia - at businesses across the state.
The legislation would come into effect on July 1, 2023, but no one could apply for a license until four months after the members of the betting commission are appointed.
Will It Get Done?
At the time of the election last fall, BetGeorgia.com reported that a Georgia News Collaborative-commissioned poll showed that only 45.6% of likely voters surveyed were in favor of legally placing sports wagers online. Another 12% did not have an opinion on the issue.
Will Georgia residents come around in favor of mobile sports betting?
The good news for lawmakers backing the Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act is that it will not need a constitutional amendment to pass because it is an online bill. Without the need of a public vote, the process could be swift and dramatically improves the bill’s chances, needing just majority votes in the Senate and House.
Senate Bill 142, which asked voters to allow online sports betting but halt other types of gambling, failed last spring without advancing to the House of Representatives.
Typically, constitutional amendments needed a two-thirds majority from the legislature before going to a vote.
Thwarting previous efforts to bring sports betting to Georgia was the lack of bi-partisan support from lawmakers. That’s no longer a snag with the Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act being backed by three Republicans and a pair of Democratic state senators.
Plenty of Options, Support From Pro Teams
Georgia’s professional sports franchises, including the MLB’s Atlanta Braves, NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS’s Atlanta United, have already been on record in their support for sports betting. Those franchises formed the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance.
The Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act would make 18 mobile sports gaming licenses, half of which would go to state’s professional franchises. The other nine licenses would be up for grabs between providers who would apply.
On top of the professional franchises, Georgia football is in the middle of a potential dynasty, having won back-to-back national championships.
The options within the state make Georgia ripe for big profits down the road, which lawmakers will be sure to bring up in attempt to make the Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act too appealing to turn down.