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.