Georgia Senate Nears Approval of Sports Betting Legislation

Georgia is progressing towards the approval of a sports gambling bill that would legalize betting in the state. The bill, known as Senate Bill 386, is expected to lead to the issuance of licenses to the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

The Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee has advanced Senate Bill 386, which could potentially lead to the issuance of 16 sports betting licenses in Georgia. However, the final outcome remains uncertain, as previous efforts to legalize betting in the state were unsuccessful.

Supporters of the bill, such as Nick Fernandez of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, are optimistic about the prospects of bringing sports betting to Georgia. The next steps involve both chambers approving the bill, followed by Governor Brian Kemp’s signature. If a constitutional amendment is pursued, it would require the agreement of two-thirds of the members of the House and Senate, followed by a statewide referendum.

While some Democrats have expressed support for the bill, others have hesitated in previous pursuits. Republican Senator Clint Dixon of Buford supports the bill, citing the potential use of funds to support youth education.

In the past, a constitutional amendment related to betting legalization had passed, but no further action was taken. Last year, senators disapproved of the legalization of sports betting and horse racing without a constitutional amendment, which failed to garner enough votes to pass.

If the bill is approved this time, the state stands to earn 20% of the revenue generated by operators through taxes. Among the potential licensees are the Georgia Lottery and eight licenses earmarked for the state’s professional sports interests, including teams like the Atlanta Braves, Falcons, Hawks, and United, as well as NASCAR’s Atlanta Motor Speedway and golf’s Augusta National and PGA.

The Georgia Lottery will play a key role in determining seven other licensees, which may not necessarily be required to be professional sports teams. The main argument in favor of the bill revolves around the potential economic benefits for the state, while opponents have raised concerns about the potential for addiction and financial loss.

As the state grapples with these competing viewpoints, the future of sports betting in Georgia remains uncertain.