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Legal Sports Betting in GA Requires Constitutional Amendment, Workaround Planned
Last Year, Legal Sports Betting Bill Passed in Senate, but Anti-Lobbyists “Bottled it Up”
Tennessee, North Carolina Only State Neighbors with Legal Sports Betting in Place
A bit of problem-solving is needed in Georgia when it comes to legalizing sports betting there, right now one of a minority of U.S. states where gambling on pro and college sports is still against the law, the biggest obstacle the fact that it could require a change in the constitution.
That’s according to 11ALIVE reporter Doug Richards who also points out that casino gambling and horse racing have failed in part because they would require a Georgia constitutional amendment that demands a two-thirds legislative majority as well as voter approval.
Since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018 giving states the right to legalize, regulate, and tax their own sports betting market, the belief in GA has been that it would also require an amendment to the state constitution, but 11ALIVE reports a potential workaround.
State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) told 11ALIVE:
"We need to tax it, we need to regulate it, and we need to run it through the lottery.”
That so-called shortcut involves attaching sports betting to the Georgia Lottery, the thinking being that it would allow the matter to be settled by the state legislature without changing the constitution, a move that might get the job done that failed to happen during last session.
According to 11ALIVE, “sports gambling got some traction last year – the state senate passed it – but arguments from lobbyists like Mike Griffin against it have helped bottle it up,” that pushback based on the flawed idea that keeping sports betting illegal will prevent it.
However, many Georgia lawmakers understand the financial benefits of legalizing sports betting in that state, an activity that residents are already participating in via illegal bookies, unregulated offshore sportsbooks, and neighboring states where that activity has already been made legal.
That’s money that’s flowing elsewhere when it could be benefitting residents in need, which, if attached to the Georgia Lottery, would also fund the HOPE scholarship and Pre-K programs in the state instead of lining the pockets of those outsiders who are only looking to profit.
So far, just two of the Peach State’s neighbors have legalized sports betting.
Over thirty states have already begun to participate in the emerging U.S. legal sports betting market that so far has generated a multi-billion dollar handle and has raised billions in tax revenue for those areas involved.
Tennessee and North Carolina are the closest Georgia neighbors that have legalized sports betting for their residents as well as for any Empire State of the South border dwellers willing and able to make the quick drive over state lines to place their action.
Richards ends his 11ALIVE report with something Rep. Stephens said, that if “sports book passed this session, lawsuits would likely challenge it – with judges perhaps deciding whether a shortcut around a constitutional amendment is legal.”
It’s an ongoing Georgian story that keeps unfolding so keep checking back and we will keep you up to date on all the latest news and updates.
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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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