Bill To Legalise Georgia Sports Betting Progresses In State House

According to a report by the Associated Press, a bill that would legalise sports betting in Georgia and give tax revenue to the state lottery is progressing in the State House, despite concerns that to get it across the line, a state constitutional amendment would be needed.

Earlier this week, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee voted 20-6 to approve House Bill 86, sending it to the full House for further discussion.

The AP claimed that the bill would require that at least six licenses be awarded by the Georgia Lottery Corporation to companies that wish to provide sports betting in the state. The state will tax the remaining earnings at a 14 percent rate until the firms paid out bettors’ winnings.

Financial boost for HOPE

Committee Chair Ron Stephens reports that this will bring in $42 million to boost funds available for HOPE college scholarships and state subsidies for pre-kindergarten classes and child care at even a 10 percent tax rate. In addition, a $900,000-a-year licensing fee will have to be charged by each operator.

Improved fan Participation

He also argued that allowing sports wagering would help improve fan participation because the four major league professional sports teams in Atlanta have not been able to fill their stadiums. “It’s for fan participation,” Stephens told the commission. “As I said earlier, the stands are empty. They believe that fan engagement is what sports betting is all about.” They assume that what sports betting is all about is fan engagement.

Stephens also expressed faith that the Georgia Lottery Corporation could be approved by lawmakers to provide sports betting. By state constitutional amendment, the lottery was approved by voters in 1992. Others also challenged whether it would be permissible, including several state government attorneys, indicating that it would require another constitutional amendment.

Any such measure will require the approval of two-thirds of each house of the General Assembly, followed by the approval of the Georgian electorate by a majority.

Individuals 21 and older will be able to bet on professional sporting activities under the auspices of House Bill 86. However sports at college or high school, and events such as injuries are not allowed.  

The AP went on to report that without allowing stakeholders’ testimony and without considering amendments, the committee voted, while a number of members expressed interest in amendments.