Despite having ample time and seemingly ample support, a bill that would have allowed Georgia to introduce a legal sports gambling market this year is dead. While all states around it are beginning to see the economic benefits that come from legal sportsbooks, Georgia seemed to be almost ready to join them. However, political infighting and temper tantrums got in the way, and it will now most likely be 2022 before the state is able to take action.
Georgia Legislature Shuts Down, Ignores Sports Gambling
The Georgia legislature adjourned yesterday, April 1, and lawmakers couldn’t come to terms with a sports gambling bill in time to push it through. Senate Resolution 135 (SR 135), which would have authorized mobile sports gambling, and Senate Bill 142 (SB 142), and put the Georgia Lottery Corp. in charge of the market, had found recent support, and it looked like they could beat the deadline. Two other bills that addressed licensed casinos and horseracing tracks also failed.
It could be said that getting this far with sports gambling legislation in Georgia was a monumental achievement. The state has a long history of gambling opposition, and previous attempts at introducing casinos or sports gambling have failed. However, lawmakers only needed to give the latest attempt one more push for it to pass, but some were too busy pouting for losing out on other measures being considered by the legislature.
Voters’ Rights Stop Sports Gambling
As odd as it sounds, voters’ rights in Georgia are partially responsible for the failure of the latest sports gambling initiative. Republican lawmakers overwhelmingly supported new measures that addressed political elections and voter requirements, but Democrats representing the state were not impressed. They tried to fight the measures, which ultimately made it to Governor Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature just an hour after it had been approved by the General Assembly.
Having not been able to get their way, Democratic lawmakers pouted and did what they could to keep sports gambling off the table. Senator Jeff Mullis, who sponsored the measures, complained about the Senate floor that House Democrats were sabotaging the efforts, asserting, “They are leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table for need-based (scholarships) funding for people who really need it.”
Next Up for Georgia Sports Gambling
It’s possible that legislators will calm down by the next session, and they have more than enough time to do so. They won’t reconvene until January 10 of next year; however, it’s likely that sports gambling supporters will begin putting together their next run on sports gambling this fall. Perhaps 2022 will be the year that Georgia finally gets with the times.