Georgia May Let Voters Decide Sports Betting’s Fate

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Georgia lawmakers’ motto is, if at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again. And then try some more. Every year for the past several years, sports betting legislation has been on the table. Each year, the initiative never gains enough momentum to reach the finish line. Another attempt will be made this year, and state voters, not lawmakers, might determine the final outcome.

Georgia Ready to Take Another Stab at Sports Betting

David Ralston, Georgia’s House Speaker, says legislators might place gambling on the ballot in this year’s election. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ralston stated that there is a desire to do something during the legislative session. It might involve voters this November.

He asserted, “Maybe it’s time that we asked the question of Georgians whether they want to expand gaming, and if they say yes, then we sit down and decide what form it will take, whether it’s going to be sports betting, whether you do horses or destination resorts.”

Ralston’s remarks raise the possibility that Georgia could expand gambling beyond just the lottery during its annual legislative session, which begins next Monday. Every year, lawmakers debate legislation to expand betting options. But none have advanced.

Ralston’s proposal calls for a referendum asking voters if they would like to see more gambling in Georgia. However, it would not define what types of betting would be permitted. The General Assembly could then decide on how to proceed.

Big Obstacle at the Top

Finding a path toward success won’t be easy. Governor Brian Kemp is a long-standing opponent of legalized gambling. However, he stated that if the Legislature and the majority of Georgia voters support it, it will be passed regardless of his position.

Ralston stated that besides gambling, he wants lawmakers to be focused on his priorities of mental and public safety. He said that they should not get distracted by “silly bills,” which he described as being presented in an election year. In 2022, at least 12 legislators are seeking to move up in the legislative ranks. Candidates often push bills to please their partisan base and increase their chances of winning the political races.

The 2022 legislative session will be able to start quickly on Monday. Ralston will start the new session in the state House at 8:15 AM, rather than the normal 10 AM time. After that, he and other legislators will quickly adjourn to allow them to travel to Indianapolis to attend the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide. The game will be played next Monday, with number-three Georgia a slight favorite over the top-ranked Tide.

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