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The Democratic nominee to be Governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams, has just made it clear that she is in favor of bringing legal and regulated gambling there, a bold move that could give her just as many votes as it may lose her, a confident candidate with plans for that revenue.
Abrams would support the state constitutional amendment that would be required for this major change to Georgia to happen, but she is convinced that is would be as lucrative a market in that state as it has been in over thirty others and DC were sports betting is now legal, saying:
Legalizing online sports betting [in Georgia] would attract more investment and increase revenue for the state.
The plan recently released by Abrams’ camp calls for a 20% tax rate on sports betting revenue which would match state neighbor Tennessee’s gambling surcharge, and the Georgia Lottery Commission would handle the setup and regulating of that new market once it was made legal.
This would represent a major shift in how Georgians are permitted to gamble since currently, the only way for them to wager is to play their state lottery.
As part of the so-called “Bible Belt,” Georgia has a reputation as a more conservative state when it comes to gambling, since the only form of betting allowed there right now is the lottery, but there are no state-run or tribal casinos, or parimutuel wagering or legal sports betting.
That does not mean Peach State gamblers don’t make wagers, it just means they are forced to find their action elsewhere by either using unregulated offshore sportsbooks, illegal local bookies or by traveling to a nearby state where that activity has already been made legal.
Gubernatorial candidate Abrams understands this reality, but she also gets that some major legislative changes must happen first before any bets can be placed, though according to her mobile sports betting is possible before changes to the constitution are made, saying:
Mobile sports betting could be done immediately through legislation even while legalizing casino gambling would require a change to the constitution. Moreover, online sports betting could immediately generate revenue until casinos are fully developed and opened.
This issue will no doubt be paramount to the upcoming elections.
In Georgia and in the U.S. the upcoming November elections could result in some major changes to the way things are done, though if Abrams’ Republican opponent, Gov. Brian Kemp, wins, the idea of fast-tracking the legalization of sports betting and gambling seems less urgent.
Kemp seems to be doing a clever political sidestep of the issue, refusing to use it as a vote-getter either way, saying this to questions about legalizing gambling in Georgia:
To be able to do that here, it’s gonna take a constitutional amendment. It doesn’t really matter what the governor thinks, you can’t veto a constitutional amendment.
Abrams sees it differently and has made her plans for that potential tax revenue clear:
We can turbocharge higher education and opportunities for anyone who has put in the work to graduate from our high schools, including those with C averages, and anyone seeking to attend our technical colleges, without risking HOPE.
It will be up to Georgia voters in November to decide how important this legal gambling issue is to them given how much new income it could bring to the state.
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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