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.