The People May Want Georgia Sports Betting, But Key Lawmakers Aren’t Interested In 2020

Posted on January 15, 2020 - Last Updated on March 20, 2020

While some prominent voices in the Peach State have expressed their support, the larger jury may still be out on legal sports betting in Georgia. The crowd that remains on the fence includes some lawmakers.

That may change with displays of public sentiment to reinforce the desire for legal wagering, however. One recent event in Georgia represents exactly such a display.

Lawmakers say there isn’t an appetite for GA sports betting

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, there is a group of Georgia state senators who don’t believe support for legal wagering is strong. Even Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan feels legislation to that end is low on the priority list.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan concurs with Duncan. Without broad support, it’s unlikely a possible constitutional amendment to allow expanded gambling will even come to a vote, much less pass.

Like in Tennessee, the only form of legal state-regulated gambling allowed in Georgia is the state lottery. Unlike in Tennessee, however, the push to expand includes both casinos and horse racing.

There is also a question of whether it’s necessary to amend the state constitution. While some legislators support the idea of putting the issue to the voters at large, other experts feel that it’s an avoidable hindrance.

Regardless of whether an amendment is the route of choice, proponents in Georgia have work to do. One recent event in the state works toward that end.

Public turns out to support Georgia sports betting

Last week, Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston held a public hearing at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Hampton community turned out, as over 200 individuals attended, according to 11Alive.

Ralston is one of the biggest proponents of gambling expansion in Georgia. He has a natural ally at the Speedway; its president Ed Clark.

Clark has joined a group of sports entertainment corporations calling for legal sports betting in the Peach State. That includes the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks.

Overcoming indifference or opposition in Atlanta will require many more such shows of strength in communities all over the state. Ralston has a long road ahead of him and the longer that takes, the better for Tennessee.

Why the timeline in Georgia matters in Tennessee

Although Tennessee sports betting is legal, Tennessee sportsbooks aren’t yet operating in the Volunteer State. The latest projections peg the NBA Playoffs as a target date.

Once legal books are up and running, Georgians will be able to cross the state line and place their bets. Every dollar wagered by Georgia residents in Tennessee represents a gain for the economy in Tennessee.

Once Tennessee launches, every day that Georgia delays is good for the Volunteer State. From that perspective, indifference and opposition to legal wagering in the Georgia legislature is a good thing. Georgia residents may beg to differ, however.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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