Georgia Lawmakers Look to Avoid Constitutional Amendment with Sports Betting Bill

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated February 15, 2023
3 min read
  • First of Several Georgia Sports Betting Bills Filed, Won’t Require Constitutional Change.
  • Recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution Poll Found GA Voters Support Legal Sports Betting.
  • Tax Revenue from Legal Georgia Sports Betting Market Could Fund Education.
Georgia Avoids Constitutional Amendment

First of Several Georgia Sports Betting Bills Filed, Won’t Require Constitutional Change

For the fourth legislative session in a row, Georgia lawmakers will attempt to pass a bill that would legalize sports betting in the state, this time via Senate Bill 57, filed Tuesday and sponsored by state Sen. Billy Hickman according to Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB).

Sen. Hickman told GPB that Georgians are already sports betting without a legal market using unregulated offshore sportsbooks and local bookies, that handle representing lost potential tax revenue that this new bill would redirect back towards the state and its residents.

With regards to Georgia legislators stepping up this time and passing a sports betting bill that requires no Constitutional amendment, Sen. Hickman told GPB he is "cautiously optimistic" that his peers can get the job done according to reporters Sarah Kallis and Devon Zwald.

Georgia is in between two other Bible belt states without legal sports betting markets – Alabama and South Carolina – and Florida below them is still in limbo when it comes to their operation, so that abstaining bloc could be shattered if Peach State lawmakers can find a compromise.

Legal sports betting is something Georgia residents have already told state leaders they want.

Georgia is home to almost 11 million people and in a recent poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution voters surveyed showed overall support for sports betting legalization according to GPB, a clear indicator that sports fans there would enjoy placing some bets.

There are plenty of NCAA sports teams based in Georgia as well as pro teams from some of the major leagues including:

  • Atlanta Braves (MLB)
  • Atlanta Hawks (NBA)
  • Atlanta Falcons (NFL)
  • Atlanta Dream (WNBA)
  • Atlanta United FC (MLS)

A legal sports betting market in Georgia could mean millions of new dollars in annual tax revenue that could be reinvested in the residents.

One quick glance at the numbers related to the U.S. legal sports betting market and it makes perfect sense as to why Georgia lawmakers continue to discuss their options, with over thirty states combining for a $191 billion handle since that U.S. market began in May 2018.

So far, that multi-billion dollar handle has created $14.6 billion in total sportsbook revenue and $2.4 billion in combined tax revenue for those states, a flowing revenue stream that used to be lost to all those unregulated (and illegal) means of handling that action.

The fact that Senate Bill 57 wouldn't require a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting (that’s according to Former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Harold Melton) is key to the journey since creating a constitutional amendment is a much lengthier process.

An amendment would require a voter referendum and two-thirds of the Georgia legislators to approve it says GPB and this measure will take long enough to pass without having to also face the amendment procedure.

It’s an unfolding story that will have plenty of updates so keep checking back for all the latest news.

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Mike Lukas

Sports Betting & Gambling Industry Analyst

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.
Nationality: American
Education: N/A
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