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Georgia’s Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed Senate Bill 172 last week, which would legalize a regulated sports betting market in the state. The bill passed 8-4, setting it up for votes in the state Senate and House, which rejected 2023 efforts.
While there is support for the new bill, it will face an uphill battle to become law. One reason is that the passage would create an amendment to the state’s constitution. The bill will need approval from two-thirds of the House and Senate to achieve that. If it does, the bill would need to be approved by residents through a state-wide referendum.
Senate Bill 172 is sponsored by Senator Bill Cowsert, who has previously led failed attempts to legalize the industry. His proposal would allow for a minimum of six online operators and a maximum of ten retail locations. There would not be a limit on how many online operators could enter the market.
Cowsert’s new bill is similar to the measure he proposed in 2023 that failed in the Georgia Senate. While the majority of the Senate voted in favor of last year’s effort, they fell short of the two-thirds approval needed to advance the bill to a referendum.
While a few minor tweaks to SB 172 could lead to a slight uptick in approval, few have faith that the bill will be able to cross the very high bar to make it into law.
While SB 172 requires a constitutional amendment, many believe this is unnecessary. They argue that Georgia’s constitution does not prohibit sports betting. Therefore, a change is unnecessary.
Some legislators are hesitating to support the effort of amending the constitution to legalize the industry. Some fear that the amendment would be far more challenging to repeal if there is an issue with the industry. Others believe the push for legal sports betting does not rise to the high importance needed to alter the state’s constitution.
While passing a bill without an amendment would be an easier path to legislation, legislators like Cowsert believe it is needed to protect the industry by ensuring it has the support of both the state and its residents.
“I don’t see anything to fear from a constitutional amendment,” Cowsert said. “I think if you make a policy change like this, you ought to have the buy-in of both parties and the citizens on board to do that, so I embrace that.”
Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.More info on Michael Savio
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