The gaming industry in the United States has seen a rise with numerous states launching some form of legalized gambling, sports betting and iGaming. Georgia, a deeply religious Republican state, remains as one of the exceptions where gambling has yet to take root. Some legislators are appealing for a change.
Georgia Lawmakers Continue Pushing for a Change
Lawmakers in Georgia consider introducing new legislation that aims to legalize commercial gambling. This will happen at the General Assembly’s reconvention on January 10, 2022. The legislative session will last for almost three months, which will be ample time to discuss whether it is time to create a legalized gambling ecosystem in Georgia.
State Rep. Ron Stephens is feeling optimistic about the upcoming negotiations. As a longtime supporter of the legalization of gambling in the state, he believes that the time might have come for gambling to finally start running in Georgia. In an interview with Capitol Beat News Service, Stephens revealed things have never looked so encouraging.
“Let the people decide: Do we want to gamble or do we not? That’s the cleanest way to do it,” he said.
Professional sports teams in Atlanta have announced their support in favor of legalizing gambling. Some of them include Atlanta United, the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks. All of them believe that sports betting in particular is going to boost fan engagement and make sporting events more enjoyable to viewers.
Rep. Alan Powell explained that those teams want to have people betting at the stadiums during live events, improving the overall experience. However, Rowell is firmly against online betting from home as it will prevent new jobs from being created. Live casinos, on the contrary, are a much more appealing idea because they will potentially create hundreds of new jobs.
Atlanta-based real estate developer, Rick Lackey, argued that Georgian bettors will find a way to bet. He suggested that many of them visit casinos in the neighboring Alabama, which is a lost potential to the local Georgian economy.
Prospects of Gambling In Georgia
With Georgia being a very conservative state, it’s one of the few states in the entire US that doesn’t have a single betting option other than the Georgia Lottery. While regulations in other states vary, they would usually have at least tribal or commercial casinos or sports betting. The only five other states where gambling is currently prohibited are Hawaii, Vermont, Kentucky Utah and South Carolina.
In Georgia many people consider gambling to be sinful, which is why all other bills to legalize money-based games have failed. Yet, seeing gambling’s lucrative success in other states, some are starting to consider the opportunities that gambling may bring to the local economy – just taking a look at the aforementioned Georgia lottery is enough of an argument. In the past 29 years, it has funded well over $23 billion for the betterment of local education.
Currently, big names in the gaming industry are carefully following how the situation in Georgia develops, prepared to strike, should gambling be legalized. Some of those include Caesars Entertainment, Bally’s Corporation and Wynn Resorts, among others. The main reason that those operators are eyeing the state is the fact that it’s the eighth-most populated state in the USA and that it hosts the largest airport in the whole country – the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
It will be interesting to follow the upcoming bills and see how the situation develops and whether Georgia will take steps to become a gambling-friendly state.