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Georgia is considering two bills that aim to legalize sports betting in 2023. These rival bills would both allow sports betting to be conducted statewide. The Georgia state lottery was introduced in 1992. Something that is shared by both bills is the directive that betting revenues, fees, and taxes should be allocated toward worthy causes in Georgia.
House Bill 380, introduced by State Representative Marcus Wiedower, proposes a simple addition of sports betting to Georgia's current legislation that permits lottery play. This bill was presented to Georgia's House Higher Education Committee on Thursday. It would authorize sports betting without the need for a constitutional amendment as part of the existing state lottery framework.
It is worth noting that this bill does not alter the allocation of lottery funds, with funds continuing to be used for college scholarships and pre-k programs already supported by the state lottery.
HB 380 outlines a proposal to offer 16 licenses, more than half of which would be given to the state's pro sports teams and other entities, such as Augusta National, which operates the Master's golf tournament. Type 1 sports betting licenses would cost $100,000 with a $1 million annual licensing fee. These licenses would be available to pro sports teams and major events.
On the other hand, State Senator Bill Cowsert, who previously sponsored a bill that narrowly failed during last year's last legislative window, seeks to allow the public to vote on the expansion of gambling through Senate Bill 172. Cowsert, who is also the Georgia State Chairman for the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, is pushing for an amendment to the constitution. Doing so requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the General Assembly to pass, followed by a majority of voters in a statewide election.
Under SB 172, about 50% of the proceeds from sports betting would be directed towards needs-based scholarships for public and private colleges, as well as programs focused on healthcare, poverty reduction, and problem gambling treatment. The bill, as currently structured, is unique in that it allows for unlimited sports betting provider licenses.
HB 380, Wiedower's bill proposes a 15% tax rate, and Cowsert's bill outlines a higher tax rate of 20%, with some types of bets taxed as high as 25%. In justifying his proposed amendment, Cowsert said, "I think it's only fair if we're going to make that big of a cultural change in our state to let the people of Georgia decide to do that."
Georgia has yet to legalize sports betting, but there have been several attempts to pass legislation in recent years. Here are some of the failed Georgia sports betting legislative attempts:
In March 2019, the Georgia Senate passed a bill to legalize sports betting but failed to pass a vote in the Georgia House.
In February 2020, a bill was introduced in the Georgia Senate to legalize sports betting. It did not gain the need traction it needed to pass.
In January 2021, a bill was introduced in the Georgia Senate to legalize sports betting. The bill proposed allowing online sports betting and up to six retail sportsbooks in the state. However, the bill needed more support and was not approved.
In February 2022, a bill was introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives to legalize sports betting. The bill proposed allowing online sports betting and up to 10 retail sportsbooks in the state. The bill did not progress before the legislative session ended.
With multiple pieces of sports betting legislation on the table for Georgia in 2023, it is definitely possible that we will see sports betting legalized this year. Even if that were to occur, it would take time for regulatory processes to be put in place.
Check out: WSN's Georgia Sports Betting Guide
The earliest we could see a Georgia online sports betting launch would be late 2023 or even some time in 2024. When the time eventually comes, though, as a major market, there would be plenty of potential sportsbooks for Georgia bettors. Expect the following major providers just to name a few:
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