GA Lawmaker Says: It’s Time We Asked the (Gambling) Question of Voters

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
4 min read
Georgia Gambling Question
  • GA House Speaker David Ralston says Legislators May Put Gambling on the Ballot 
  • For the Past Several Years, Sports Betting Has Been Debated in Georgia
  • Road Block: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is a Long Time Opponent of Legal Gambling

GA House Speaker David Ralston says Legislators May Put Gambling on the Ballot

When it comes to legalizing sports gambling in Georgia, give its lawmakers credit for at least trying in 2021 with two attempts to introduce sports betting bills in the House of Representatives last year, though neither was signed into law so that activity is still illegal in the Peach State.

That could change in 2022, according to state House Speaker David Ralston, who told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that legislators could place gambling on the Georgia ballot in this year’s election to let voters decide whether to legalize this debated activity in the state.

According to Ralston:

There is an appetite this session that I haven’t seen before to do something. Maybe it’s time that we asked the question of Georgians whether they want to expand gaming, and if they say yes, then we sit down and decide what form it will take, whether it’s going to be sports betting, whether you do horses or destination resorts.

Georgia’s first legislative session started on Monday when they can begin debating Ralston’s proposal which calls for a ballot asking voters if they are in favor of legalizing gambling in the state, though the referendum would not define the exact types of gambling that would be allowed.

Other Georgia lawmakers have also talked about plans to work on a new sports betting bill that would be debated in the current legislative session, yet another chance for those in favor of this potentially lucrative market to make their case as to why it makes sense for Georgians.

It’s a debate that has been pressed on there for years.

For the Past Several Years, Sports Betting Has Been Debated in Georgia

It wasn’t until the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May of 2018 that it was even possible to consider making sports betting legal in Georgia, and since then it has been a back-and-forth debate about whether legalizing such a controversial activity would be a positive for residents.

The reality is that in the Empire State of the South, gamblers are already placing bets on sporting events, they just use offshore sportsbooks and illegal bookies to do it, or else they make a quick trip over to Tennessee where it’s legal and take their action there.

It’s potentially millions of dollars spent by Georgian gamblers that leaves the state and benefits outside interests, and the main argument for legalizing sports betting there is to finally regulate and tax that market so that residents can begin benefitting from it.

It certainly makes financial sense, but to those like Georgia Governor Brian Kemp who are fundamentally opposed to gambling in general, this debate is not about money.

A long time opponent of legalizing gambling in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp argues against the idea of a sports betting bill for several reasons, a few most likely stemming from the fact that his state is in the middle of the “Bible Belt” where gambling is morally condemned.

One of the not-so-obvious of the governor’s arguments against gambling legislation is that given that this is an election year in the state, Kemp fears that lawmakers could get distracted by “silly bills” that have been presented primarily for candidates to drum up votes.

But in the past, Gov. Kemp has made it clear that if Georgia’s congress and the majority of voters are in favor of legalizing sports betting, he would sign the bill into law despite his own opinions, an ongoing story that’s bound to have updated so check back for the latest news.

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Mike Lukas

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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
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