Legal Georgia Sports Betting Dies on House Floor

Closeup of Man Making Sports Bets on His Phone
Legal Georgia Sports Betting died at the House Floor on Wednesday, after failing to make it through the state General Assembly.

The legislation would have legalized betting on the 2022 ballot, allowing Georgia residents the deciding votes. However, because of the controversial election reform bill signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, state democrats blocked a number of bills, including the two sports betting bills in protest of the election one.

Two Pieces of Legislation

Georgia senators approved two pieces of legislation, SB 135 and SB 142 last March 5th and sent both to the house. SB 135 proposed a change to the state constitution to legalize mobile sports betting. Such constitutional change needed a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers and public approval in a statewide vote.

SB 142 meanwhile, would have placed the Georgia Lottery Corporation in charge of regulating legal Georgia sports betting. At least six mobile sports betting operators would’ve received licenses under the legislation with each one paying a $100,000 annual licensing fee and remitting 20% of their revenues to the state.

Politics Ended the Legal Georgia Sports Betting Bill

Originally, the legal Georgia sports betting bill had bi-partisan support. But after Gov. Kemp signed a bill that reduced voter rights in the state, the Democrats withdrew their support for the legal Georgia sports betting bill. And despite the majority controlling the Georgia House 103-76, the matter requires a constitutional amendment, which needs a two-thirds vote.

While the legal Georgia sports betting bill died without action, the legislature ended its 2021 session spending the final parts of the day discussing the state budget. Among the bills that made it through were the rewrite of the citizen’s arrest law, a human trafficking bill that allows victims or state officials to file civil case against illegal traffickers, and the controversial election reform bill that added a new restriction to mail voting. As for the legal Georgia sports betting bill, it will have to wait to be revived in 2022 during the second-year of the General Assembly’s cycle.

Georgia Senate Approves Constitutional Amendment for Sports Betting

Person Browsing a Sports Betting Site on a Tablet

Georgia senators want voters to decide whether they will legalize sports betting in the Peach State by passing a constitutional amendment and a bill to allow the practice last Friday. Senators voted 41-10 in favor of the amendment and 34-17 for the bill, sending both to the House for more discussion and debate.

Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 would legalize Georgia sports betting and let state lawmakers distribute the state’s revenues among three beneficiaries: college scholarships for low-income students, expanded high-speed internet, and rural health care services.

Said Sen Jeff Mullis, a Chickamauga Republican on the constitutional amendment:

“A no vote for this bill is allowing the bookies to continue to control sports betting, the bookies, the illegal activity… The yes vote is to allow the people to decide.”

Similar to Tennessee

The outline of Georgia sports betting is similar to that of Tennessee. Bettors should be at least 21 years old to place wagers. Only online betting is allowed but there is no limit as to the number of online sports betting operators that will be approved and there has to be a minimum of six.

Each Georgia sports betting operator will be required to pay a licensing fee of $100,000 per year after an upfront one-time payment of $10,000 during the application process. The tax rat would be 16% which is much less than the 20% that the House Committee is working on.

Under the Senate bill, gambling on in-state collegiate games is not allowed. That means that betting on Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and other colleges in the state would not be fair-game for Georgia sports bettors.

Senate and House Have Different Approaches

The Senate and House have different approaches to legalizing Georgia sports betting. House Economic Development Tourism Committee chairman Ron Stephens is pushing for a house bill legalizing Georgia sports betting but it has yet be approved by Congress.

Stephens has argued that a constitutional amendment is not needed as long as the Georgia Lottery Corp. will be designated as the body to take charge of sports betting operations in the state. Athens Republican Sen. Bill Coswert rejected Stephens’ argument in a debate.

Congress has also re-committed to further work on one of their sports betting proposals, House Bill 86. With the current disagreements in provisions like taxes from profits and the amount of annual licensing fee among others, there’s no telling if the Senate’s Georgia sports betting bill can get through the House.

Georgia House Panel Pushes For Higher Sports Betting Tax Rates

Closeup of Man Making Sports Bets on His Phone

The Georgia House Economic Development and Tourism Committee has flip-flopped on the proposed tax rate for Georgia sports betting. After previously approving a bill that would tax bookmakers’ profits at 14%, the panel approved a revised version of House Bill 86 that would mandate payment of sports betting taxes at 20% of profits.

Committee chairman Ron Stephens, a Republican from Savannah, estimates that Georgia sports betting could bring in more than $30M per year to the state. That amount would greatly increase the funds for the HOPE college scholarships and increase subsidies for pre-kindergarten classes and child care.

House Bill 86

House Bill 86 or the Georgia sports betting bill mandates the Georgia Lottery Corporation to issue at least six licenses to companies who wish to offer sports betting activities in the state. These companies would be required to pay a licensing fee of $900,000 per year. After paying out bettors’ winnings, these sportsbooks would be taxed at a percentage of the remaining profits. The tax rate was previously set at 14% but the lawmakers now want to push it up to 20%.

The bill will also allow online sports wagering statewide with remote registration. Sports betting will be limited to professional sports while the state’s professional sports teams will be allowed to partner with sports betting operators. These operators will be mandated to purchase official sports data.

Legislative Deadline Nearing

Georgia’s General Assembly will be in session until April 2 and Bill 86 has a legislative deadline of the 28th session day to pass out of the chamber with Monday’s session being the 21st session already. The bill will now be directed to the Rules Committee and if it is passed there, it will go to the House Floor for a vote.

A Senate version of the Georgia Sports Bill had a hearing with the Committee on Regulated Industries Utilities last week. The difference between the two bills is that Senate bill 142 provides for a 10% tax rate and that wagering using credit cards and debits cards will be allowed.

House Committee Approves Georgia Sports Betting Bill

Man on Laptop With a Sportsbook and Money Background
Georgia’s House Economic Development and Tourism Committee voted 20-6 in favor of House Bill 86 or the the Georgia Sports Betting bill. With the committee’s approval, the bill will now be sent to the full House for more debate.

The committee voted without allowing any testimony from interested parties and without considering any amendments despite several members expressing their interest in making amendments.

Said state Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican from Savannah, who is the primary author of the bill and at the same time the Chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee:

“We believe that the folks ought to just make it another lottery game.”

Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act

Known as the Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act, Bill 86 seeks to give the Georgia Lottery Corp. the mandate to hand out at least six licenses to companies who wish to engage in legal Georgia sports betting activities.

Under the legislation, Georgia sports betting operators will have to pay a $50,000 application fee and a $900,000 annual licensing fee. The companies would also be subject to 14% tax on their gross adjusted income which is derived by deducting payouts to bettors from the operators’ total bets received. The proceeds from the tax will benefit the lottery’s educational programs like the HOPE scholarships, state subsidies for pre kindergarten classes, and child care.

Georgia Sports Betting Bill Has Safeguards

Detractors of the Georgia sports betting bill argue that state-sponsored gambling will encourage addiction and social harms. According to those who oppose it, they do not want to open the door beyond Georgia’s already massive Lottery, saying they are trying to avoid legislative support for a constitutional amendment that will allow casinos.

However, Stephens counters that the Georgia sports betting bill includes safeguards like requiring bettors to be at least 21 years old, and only allowing people to wager using debit cards and not credit cards. It would also prohibit betting on high school or college sports and ban prop bets on certain events like player injuries.

Should Sports Betting in Georgia Become Legalized?

SportsbookThanks to an alliance of Atlanta’s big-league sports teams, there’s been a recent push for legalization of sports betting in Georgia. In fact, we could see the first legislation proposed as soon as next week.

Those teams, which make up what’s called The Professional Sports Integrity Alliance, is made up of the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks.

The group has been busy lobbying lawmakers to legalize mobile sports betting. That’s wagering done on a phone, all cash, no credit.

There’s been some opposers, however, including Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, who thinks sports franchises wouldn’t make a dime off legalized betting.

Where does he say profit will go instead? It would become tax revenue that would go to the state of Georgia. Although he does believe the individual franchises would profit from increased fan engagement, something he believes is important in modern sports.

“With the younger fans, we need more engagement,”McKay said. “What we’ve seen from all the numbers is how much sports gambling there is going on from that age of 23 to 40, and this becomes an engagement opportunity for us.”

A European Betting Model

McKay said teams would base the betting on the European Model, where bets are made over a phone or mobile device.

Because it would not use credit cards, only cash in an account, he believes most bets would be made in the $10 to $20 range. He also said all the leagues and sports teams would take measures to ensure the integrity of the game.

The Alliance claims that the state of Georgia already has $1.5 billion worth of revenue due to underground or illegal gambling.

“They’re doing it now,” McKay said. “They’re doing it offshore, and they’re doing it illegally. So why wouldn’t we put some restrictions around it? Legalize it. Regulate it, and have the state make revenue off it.”

The Case for Gambling in the State

Georgia lawmakers are studying the potential economic benefits of expanding gambling in the state, which supporters say would bring thousands of jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the struggling Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.

Jennifer Roberts, associate director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a gaming law expert who has represented major hotel chains, said factors such as Georgia’s relative isolation from other gaming make a valid case for expanding the industry.

“In general, gambling does bring economic benefit to states,” Roberts said. “But any form of gambling is a policy decision for each state. Policymakers have to decide what the smartest approach is for their state.” Supporters for years have tried different ways to expand gambling in Georgia, through casinos or horse racing, but a recent call from Governor Brian Kemp to cut down budgets has renewed energy around the topic.

Georgians will need to approve a constitutional amendment to allow the expansion of casino gambling or horse racing betting within the state.

Kemp has said that while he opposes casino gambling, he will not stand in the way of putting an amendment before voters as long as it guarantees the revenue will benefit HOPE. Georgia Lottery officials have said improved performance by high schoolers and rising tuition have made it increasingly difficult to fulfill HOPE’s goal of providing full scholarships to the state’s top students.

“I know there’s always those opposed to gambling — and it is a policy decision,” Roberts said. “But there are definitely benefits from having a regulated legal (gambling) system. Part of that is having responsible gambling methods and consumer protections. That’s in addition to revenue benefits.”

Roberts said Georgia’s relative isolation from most forms of gambling creates an economic opportunity.

 

Lawmakers Discuss Gambling Regulations in Georgia

To say that Georgia is not a gambling-friendly state is an understatement. It has some of the strictest laws towards the gambling laws of almost any other state in the country. Surprisingly, lawmakers are discussing whether or not to change the current set of gambling regulations in Georgia.

Georgia State Flag

It’s extremely exciting news for gambling fans here. Now is the perfect time to look at the current laws here, and discuss how they could change in the future. Let’s get into it!

Gambling Laws in Georgia, Explained

As we’ve already mentioned, Georgia has some of the most restrictive laws in the country when it comes to gambling. The first real set of regulations here came in 1878. That year, lawmakers in the country decided to ban the sale of lottery tickets.

Things haven’t improved much since then. For a brief time, gambling fans found a legal loophole that allowed making wagers through online poker machines. State officials quickly created legislation that made this form of gambling illegal.

In 1993, the state finally decided to create an official lottery. It’s tightly regulated, though.

A bill to legalize casinos was nearly passed here in 2012. Unfortunately, lawmakers eventually decided to shut it down. Today, traditional casino gambling remains illegal. Only cruise ships that take gamblers into international waters are available here. Amazingly, a committee was formed here to begin studying the gambling industry in April of this year.

In May of 2018, the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA, giving every state the option to legalize sports gambling. For many months, officials in Georgia seemed uninterested in making this form of gambling legal. This now appears to be changing.

Lawmakers are now meeting to talk about the current set of gambling regulations in Georgia.

Officials May Soon Change Gambling Regulations in Georgia

Earlier this month, several of Georgia’s biggest sports teams officially voiced their support for the legalization of sports gambling. The Presidents of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, and Atlanta Hawks all officially support these plans.

Interestingly, lawmakers are beginning to warm up to the idea of expanding gambling regulations in Georgia. These officials are now taking their show to the road. A house committee officially held a meeting in Valdosta, talking about tax revenue.

The goal is to educate residents here on the ways that expanded gambling operations could benefit the state. Many of these lawmakers believe that opening the state’s casino, sports betting, and horse racing market could help bring money to the state’s HOPE scholarship program. Today was the first meeting of the entire tour.

State Representative Brett Harrell commented on the discussion on gambling regulations in Georgia to the media today.

“Our intent is to ask the citizens, ‘Do you support inviting this industry to Georgia?’” he said. “If the answer is yes, how do you want us to enable this industry to come to Georgia so you all get your piece of the pie?”

As of now, it’s unlikely that any small cities such as Valdosta will receive a casino. Larger cities may have the ability to open one if the state changes its laws. We’ll need to wait and see how lawmakers feel about the possible changes.

More States Continue to Legalize Sports Betting

Georgia may not be completely on-board with legalizing sports betting yet. Many other states, however, are currently working to legalize this form of gambling. Several states have recently passed bills to legalize this industry and will soon begin offering odds on sporting events taking place around the world.

On November 5th, Colorado officially approved a sports betting bill. It allows for both in-person and online betting. The first bets will become available here sometime in 2020.

Many believe that in time, every state in the country will choose to legalize this industry. California seems likely to do so over the next year or two. This state is the most populous in the country. The state government would likely earn millions of dollars every single month with sports betting legalization.

Many lawmakers are beginning to realize how much money can be earned from this industry. It’s a great time to be a sports fan in this country.

Gambling regulations in Georgia could soon change. Hopefully, both casino gambling and sports betting will become available here.

Stay tuned for more updates over the next few months!

Gambling Options in Georgia May Finally Become Available

The state of Georgia is well-known for having some of the strictest gambling laws in the country. There are almost no legal gambling options in Georgia. Interestingly, lawmakers here are once again discussing the possibility of opening up the state’s gambling industry. Georgia Flag And State Outline

It’s an exciting time for casino and sports betting fans in the state. Today, we’re going to look at why state officials are considering allowing gambling. We’ll also talk about which forms of gambling may soon become available here. Let’s get into it!

Gambling Laws in Georgia, Explained

As we’ve already mentioned, Georgia is notorious for having some of the strictest gambling laws in the country. As of now, the only real form of wagering allowed here is the lottery. There are no land-based casinos in Georgia.

The first set of laws to crack down on the gambling industry in Georgia came back in 1878. That year, the state government banned the sale of lottery tickets. It wasn’t until 1993, more than a hundred years later, before lottery sales were permitted here again.

Chapter 16-12-20 of the State Statutes defines an illegal bet as follows:

“Bet” means an agreement that, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value…” 

This pretty much covers all forms of land-based gambling. Laws on internet gambling in Georgia are a little less clear. There are no specific laws here that mention the specific legality of playing through online casinos in GA.

Many states around the country are beginning to expand their gambling operations. Most of these states are profiting massively as a result. Lawmakers in Georgia are now considering allowing certain forms of gambling, as well.

Gambling Options in Georgia May Soon Become Available

This week, politicians in Georgia discussed the pros and cons of opening the state’s gambling industry. It’s clear that lawmakers in this state recognize the huge earning potential from the gambling industry. Several are now pushing for sports gambling to become legal here.

PASPA was struck down in May of 2018. Now, every state in the country has the ability to set its own laws on sports gambling. Many states now have fully-regulated sports betting options available. Several of these states are now profiting massively from this industry.

Georgia State Senator Brandon Beach recently opened a meeting to discuss legalizing this highly popular industry. He also feels that legalizing sports betting will open a new discussion on the gambling industry as a whole.

“So I thought, when that happened, it would be important for us to not only look at sports betting, but a holistic approach to gaming. If we’re going to look at sports betting, we should look at the whole gaming industry,” Beach said. 

Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, is fiercely against the gambling industry. Recently, however, he claimed that he would not stand in the way of casino legalization if the money goes towards education. That’s great news for gambling operators looking to break into the Georgia market.

Gambling Revenue Could be Used to Fund HOPE

There are still a number of steps that need to be taken before any real forms of gambling can be legalized here. The governor wants to ensure that all revenue earned from the industry would be used to help fund education. Recently, lawmakers here discussed plans to use gambling revenue to help pay for the HOPE scholarship program.

The HOPE program first started in 1993. It’s a Georgia-run scholarship program that rewards students with financial assistance at eligible universities and technical colleges. This program is entirely funded by the Georgia state lottery. Lawmakers are now claiming that expanded gambling options in Georgia would help to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to this program.

In order for casino or sports betting options to become available here, voters in the state would need to approve the measures. Next, two-thirds of the state’s Legislature would need to agree to change the state’s constitution. Finally, a bill would need to be presented that details exactly how much gambling operators would be taxed.

It may be years before any new gambling options in Georgia become available. Fortunately, lawmakers in this state are beginning to take a closer look at this industry.

Do you think casino gambling or sports betting will become available in Georgia? Let us know in the comment section below!