Georgia Lawmaker “Hopeful” Sports Betting Bill Gets on Next Ballot

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
3 min read
Georgia Next Ballot
  • Georgia State Rep. Ron Stephens “Hopeful” Sports Betting Bill Passes This Session
  • Sports Betting Proponents Argue Georgia Bettors Placing Wagers Elsewhere
  • Benefits to Existing Georgia Gambling Include Lottery-Funded HOPE Scholarship 

Georgia State Rep. Ron Stephens “Hopeful” Sports Betting Bill Passes This Session

Last year, Georgia came close to joining the 31 other US states that have already legalized sports betting for residents in some form, but the two pieces of sports gambling legislation being considered – SR 135 and SB 142 – never made it past the state House of Representatives.

Now in 2022, the Peach State congress has been in session for a month and some lawmakers are renewing the push to get a sports betting bill passed in order to give Gorgia voters the chance to decide whether they want a legal sports betting market in their state.

One such legislator, State Representative Ron Stephens, has said that he is “hopeful” that a sports betting bill can pass through Georgia’s state congress this session, recently authoring a guest column for a local paper where he wrote:

A piece of legislation I will be spearheading is the constitutional amendment to allow the Georgia Lottery to create a sports gaming bill.

Another Georgia lawmaker, Senator David Lucas, said at the end of last year that in 2022 he would likely sponsor some form of sports betting legislation that might potentially fund the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

The reality lawmakers face is that Georgia bettors are already betting.

Sports Betting Proponents Argue Georgia Bettors Placing Wagers Elsewhere

Make no mistake – not creating a legal, regulated, and taxed sports betting market in Georgia does not prevent resident punters from placing wagers no more than making marijuana illegal keeps stoners from finding their weed.

For years Peach State gamblers pumped billions of dollars into unregulated offshore sportsbooks and local bookies, but once the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, they could also eventually travel to nearby Tennessee and North Carolina to scratch their betting itch.

Georgia lawmakers like Rep. Ron Stephens recognize this reality and he has said he wants his state to join the many others who are now redirecting that money back home to where it can help residents, saying:

With the rising popularity of sports gaming, especially with the rising popularity of the National Football League, many states have legalized the practice.

It’s not like Georgia doesn’t already benefit from some forms of gambling.

Benefits to Existing Georgia Gambling Include Lottery-Funded HOPE Scholarship

What is legal now in Georgia are charitable raffles and a state lottery, with proceeds from the latter going towards the HOPE Scholarship, a fund that helps bring access to knowledge to those residents who for a variety of external reasons struggle to learn.

Rep. Stephens explains clearly that sports betting won’t be much different, saying:

With this being the 30th anniversary of the lottery vote creating the HOPE Scholarship, more than 2 million Georgians have lifted themselves up through higher education and technical college careers. More than 1.6 million families received pre-K head starts. We will take up sports gaming in the days to come to close the gap with HOPE and pre k. Bottom line, this will be another lottery game.

Whether Stephens’ fellow Georgia lawmakers see it the same way will become clearer as the current legislative session carries on, so check back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.

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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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