Two Georgia sports betting proposals made their way through the Senate last week.
Now, state representatives want voters to have a final say in the matter.
Georgia sports betting will soon be in the hands of voters
The Georgia Senate passed a bill and a constitutional amendment to permit sports betting last Friday.
The bill outlines the proposed Georgia sports betting market, while the amendment leaves the issue of sports betting legalization up to voters on their November 2022 ballots.
Under Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142, the state would split sports betting tax revenue between college scholarships for low-income students, rural health care services, and improved high speed internet access.
The amendment passed the Senate 41-10 and the bill passed 34-17. Next up, the bills move to the House for subsequent discussion.
Georgia sports betting mimics Tennessee
Georgia’s online-only sports betting journey looks similar to that of Tennessee’s. There will be no limit to the number of sports betting operators permitted, though a minimum of six online sportsbooks is required.
Tennessee currently has seven licensed sportsbooks:
- Action 24/7
- William Hill
Sports betting will be open to those 21 and older, and bettors will be subject to a $2,500 monthly deposit limit.
Operators must pay a yearly $100,000 licensing fee and a one-time $10,000 application payment. If the Georgia Senate’s version of the bill passes, the state would collect a 10% tax from sportsbooks.
Gambling on in-state collegiate games will likely be prohibited, meaning Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Mercer and Georgia Southern fans will still have to travel out of state to place bets.
Sports betting could produce an estimated $30 million to $100 million in additional annual tax revenue for the Peach State.
In Tennessee, sports betting has generated $9.8 million in taxes during the first four months alone – on track for a $30 million year itself.
Senate and House divided
The House and Senate differ when it comes to specifics like tax rate, annual licensing fee, and the inclusion of collegiate-level sporting events.
A handful of prominent lawmakers argue that if the Georgia Lottery becomes sports betting’s designated regulator and adds sports betting to its list of approved games, no constitutional amendment would be necessary.
As it exists now, sports betting would not be overseen by the Georgia Lottery and tax revenue would go into a general fund.
Senator Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, is hopeful this will change once the bills undergo discussion in the House conference committee. House Economic Development Tourism Committee chairman Ron Stephens is leading such House efforts.
Other representatives, such as Senator Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, reject the idea. He believes future issues will arise without a constitutional amendment.
Once both branches come to an agreement on terms, Gov. Brian Kemp has until April 2 to sign off on the new referendum bill.
Realistically, this means Georgia voters could have their say in November 2022 and the Peach State could officially welcome online sports betting by 2023.