Hope for Georgia sports betting may not be dead just yet
In a surprising last-minute move, two Georgia sports betting bills moved out of committee on Monday with just one week remaining in the state’s legislative session.
The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee approved legislation SB 142, a bill to legalize online and retail sports betting, and SR 135, a resolution to allow for the vote on a constitutional amendment in November to legalize sports betting, during Monday’s meeting. The two pieces of legislation were originally proposed in 2021 and are both sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) who spoke before the committee this week.
Possible Georgia sports betting ballot question
SB 142 sets up the framework and regulatory rules for Georgia sports betting while SR 135 will allow for a sports betting question on November’s general election ballot. If approved by voters legalized betting would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
Estimates have shown sports betting could bring in nearly $100 million for educational programs in the state.
Gambling Is Back At The Georgia State Capitol
The Georgia State House Economic Development & Tourism Committee is meeting now.
New version of SR 135 is expected to be a November voter referendum on all gambling.
— Rahul Bali (@rahulbali) March 28, 2022
The two pieces of legislation will have to be passed through both the House and Senate this week, as the state’s legislation session ends on April 4.
If this does not pass, or if the ballot question is voted down, Georgia likely wouldn’t have legalized sports betting until 2025 at the earliest.
Georgia sports betting bill details
If approved, retail and online sports betting would be legal in Georgia. Eighteen online sports betting licenses would be available, with licenses split between Georgia professional sports franchises and other entities. Professional sports franchises would be able to offer both retail and online sports betting in the state.
The bill calls for a 20% sports betting tax rate. Potential license holders would have to pay a $100,000 application fee and a $1 million license fee to operate in the state.
The bill will also call for the creation of a Georgia Gaming Commission to oversee all legislation regarding state gaming. The commission will allow Georgia legislators to more easily pass gaming laws, such as iGaming or casino betting, in the future.
Georgia lawmakers attempted to legalize sports betting in 2021, but weren’t able to push a bill through the Georgia House of Representatives. Members of the Georgia Senate passed bill SB 142 by a vote of 32-17 in March 2021. The bill would have legalized Georgia sports betting and put it under the purveyance of the Georgia Lottery. However, it stalled out in the House and never received a vote.