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Jerome García January 10, 2024 3 min read
Georgia Lawmakers to Resume Betting Legalization Efforts
With the start of the new legislative session, the legalization of sports betting will be one of the topics up for discussion by lawmakers in the state
Since 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA, sports betting has been rapidly expanding across the country. To date, 37 states and DC offer some form of sports wagering and enjoy the benefits the legal activity brings. While some US states have already legalized the activity, lawmakers in a handful of states are still trying to pass legislation that would pave the way to legal betting on sports. One such state is Georgia.
Sen. Brandon Beach, one of the outspoken supporters of gambling legalization in Georgia, commented on the topic at a Joint Committees on Economic Development and Tourism meeting in December. At the time, he highlighted some of the benefits of legal gambling, pointing out that the state may benefit by some $900 million annually from taxes.
The Senator said that the taxes from legal gambling can benefit education, healthcare as well as different infrastructure projects across Georgia. As a supporter of gambling legalization, Sen. Beach hinted at plans to introduce legislation that would enable the state’s residents to vote for a constitutional amendment, paving the way for legal sports betting, pari-mutuel wagering and casino gambling. In December, he said he plans to resume the efforts for gambling legalization with the new legislative session.
With the start of the legislative session, bills that didn’t make it through the last one may resurface. This otherwise means that lawmakers in Georgia will have another chance to push forward proposals for sports betting legalization. Rep. Ron Stephens, another supporter of the legalization of betting, was recently interviewed by WTOC11. He predicted that sports betting would be back on the table for lawmakers during the new legislative session.
Legal Sports Betting Can Provide Vital Revenue
The lawmaker said he hopes to see more support for the legalization of sports betting, outlining that the tax revenue derived from the activity can benefit education across Georgia. “That’s where we are going with sports betting: to allow these folks, specifically our pro teams, the Falcons, the Hawks, everybody that’s in the state of Georgia (to offer sports betting). They are asking us to allow them to do this. This is just another lottery game. It would add money directly to the HOPE and Pre-K,” explained Rep. Stephens.
During the last legislative session, Stephens tabled House Bill 237, a proposal that called for the legalization of wagering across the state, allowing up to 16 online sportsbooks to operate. The supervision of those sportsbooks would be in the hands of the Georgia Lottery.
The bill proposed taxes from sports wagering to benefit different education programs. House Bill 237 didn’t see the light of day during the last legislative session. Yet, per the recent interview, efforts by Stephens are likely to resume.