Georgia Legislature Moves One Step Closer To Legalizing Gambling

Posted on December 10, 2020

Tennessee may soon welcome another neighboring state into the sports betting fold.

Gambling has been outlawed in Georgia for quite some time, though tides are beginning to shift.

Georgia’s gambling efforts have been on the fast track recently, garnering attention from state legislators.

Legislators to consider gambling legalization in 2021

The Biennial Institute conducted a one-hour session on the subject this week. This annual event allows lawmakers to explore state issues before General Assembly, which convenes on Jan. 11, 2021.

In anticipation of next year’s session, legislators have filed bills to kickstart the legalization process of sports betting, pari-mutuel wagering, and casinos.

Lobbyists have spent years making the case for gambling. Now, state politicians are following suit.

Georgia House Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) is hopeful for progress in the upcoming year:

“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen in this next session. The people want it; opinion polls and more importantly public hearings show that. It’s time the legislature give Georgians that opportunity.”

Stephens, who is also the chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee, is an active proponent of gambling and casino-related advancements.

He has sponsored gambling legislation during his last three terms in office.

However, in order to pass in the Georgia House and Senate, gambling will have to win over the supermajority vote.

If a gaming bill is passed by the legislature, it would then go to Gov. Brian Kemp for signature. Next, legislators have to create a constitutional amendment in order to alter Georgia law.

The decision will ultimately be put to a statewide ballot referendum, allowing Georgia residents to have final say in the matter.

Current Georgia gambling laws

Recent legalization initiatives are a big step for Georgia.  The state implements some of the strictest gambling laws in the country.

As of now, the lottery is the only existing form of legalized gambling.

Residents must cross the border into North Carolina or Alabama to find the nearest casinos.

They can also head to the Emerald Princess Casino, located on the coast of Brunswick, Georgia. The casino cruise ship circumnavigates state gambling restrictions by traveling three miles into international waters. Customers can gamble legally once there.

The ship does not provide the ability to wager on sports.

Tennessee is currently the only bordering state that offers sports betting, though North Carolina could become an option by early 2021.

Legalized wagering could lend substantial tax revenue to Georgia.

Initial Tennessee revenue reports might motivate The Peach State to expedite the process.

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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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