Georgia Senators to Debate Online Gambling Legalization

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In Georgia, lawmakers, and Sen. Brandon Beach in particular, are pushing for a constitutional change that would allow state residents to vote in a referendum and determine whether they want to legalize gambling.

Georgia Could Yet See Gambling Legalized

Georgia lawmakers may be more inclined to legalize sports betting in 2020 as falling tax revenue is prompting the state to look for new sources of income. Yet, Sen. Brandon Beach hasn’t been entirely certain whether sports betting must be legalized. Nevertheless, it must be noted that Sen. Brandon Beach is one of the long-time proponents of such a move.

While the state is more open to gambling in principle, sports betting seems to be off the table. ‘We need further deliberation,’ Sen. Beach said last week. While the committee chaired by Beach has been quick to adopt a 13-page proposal seeking to establish a regulatory framework for gambling, the legislation hasn’t been passed onto the Senate.

Meanwhile, a House of Representatives Committee has been working to find new sources of revenue for the state. To introduce gambling as one of those, Georgia has to undergo constitutional reforms, requiring a super majority, or two-thirds of in the Georgia House and Senate.

If successful, Georgia would have to proceed to a state-wide referendum where residents would decide if they want to endorse gambling in the state. Georgia Rep. Ron Stephens has also expressed his endorsement of a would-be gambling industry. The Representative even suggested several destinations that could host casino resorts.

One of the designated areas is Atlanta. Backers of the legalization move across the state have already suggested two properties, one to be built in Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton and another close to the Chattahoochee River between Uptown Columbus and Fort Benning.

Bob Wright, the man pushing for the Chattahoochee River resort spoke to the House Committee on December 11, arguing that there has been active development in the area, and a casino resort would only continue and build up on that.

State of the Gambling Industry in Georgia

Sen. Beach has been one of the main proponents of the gambling industry in the state. He has already made successful pushes for pari-mutuel betting on horses, one of the pre-cursor activities for most legalized sports betting and gambling states.

His hopes were to create more jobs for the state. Even mainstream sports franchises based in Georgia, such as Atlanta United, the Braves and Falcons have openly advocated for the introduction of sports betting. Georgia could focus on the online segment, but this brings up another problem, which goes against the grain of what Sen. Beach wants – jobs.

If Georgia’s industry-to-be focused solely on the online segment, then that would eliminate the opportunity to build facilities, such as casinos and race tracks, generating jobs. A proposed resolution was if both segments were endorsed and the move was fairly well-received with representatives.

Yet, Senators remain undecided fearing that mobile, i.e. mobile gambling, would eat too much of the potential return for the state. Other states have indicated that the introduction of a mobile segment actually leads to a significant boost in operations.

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