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There’s a slim ray of hope for Georgia gamblers looking to place bets legally as early last week the state House Economic Committee approved two sports betting bills that could pave the way for a legal market to launch there for residents.
Gambling Is Back At The Georgia State Capitol
The Georgia State House Economic Development & Tourism Committee is meeting now.
New version of SR 135 is expected to be a November voter referendum on all gambling.
— Rahul Bali (@rahulbali) March 28, 2022
Both of these bills are sponsored by state Representative Ron Stephens who seems to be using a two-prong approach to this effort, with one bill meant to break down the regulatory framework and rules that operators will have to follow and the other meant to give residents a say:
Should the Georgia voters be in a position to approve these measures in November and the bill eventually becomes a law, there would be eighteen online sports betting licenses available with those being split between the state’s pro teams and other sportsbook operators.
Time is running out for Georgia lawmakers, however, as their legislative session is about to come to an end.
The current Georgia legislative session started on January 10, 2022, and is scheduled to adjourn on Monday, April 4, so there is not much time to move these two bills through congress with a two-thirds majority vote, though stranger things have happened when this much potential revenue is involved.
There is no telling how much money Georgia punters are already spending on sports bets using offshore sportsbooks, illegal bookies, and neighboring states like Tennessee and North Carolina where this activity has already been made legal the way it has so far in 30+ states and counting.
Georgia lawmakers have already tried to regulate that underground market in 2021, but they were unable to get the House of Representatives on board despite the Senate passing that bill (SB 142) by a 32-17 vote in March of that same year.
The pushback comes from state leaders like Rep Randy Nix, who has voiced his concerns that sports betting is “one of the most addictive things that people can do,” telling the press:
“This is not something that the state of Georgia wants its stamp of approval on. The No. 1 state to do business, we don’t need this. This is what people do that are desperate, and this state is doing extremely well.”
Time is wasting, though, and money is being lost the more lawmakers delay.
According to reports, 50% of the tax revenue generated from a legal Georgia sports betting market would go towards HOPE college scholarships and state subsidies for prekindergarten classes and childcare, while the other half would go towards financial aid for low income residents.
Some industry insiders are confident that with Georgia being home to so many pro sports franchises – MLB: Atlanta Braves, NFL: Atlanta Falconsv, NBA: Atlanta Hawks – as well as an abundance of popular college teams, a legal sports betting market there could generate an annual handle in the billions.
A decision by the Georgia congress should come this week, so keep checking back for the latest news and updates on this unfolding story.
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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. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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