November 22, 2023 3 min read

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Momentum Grows for Sports Betting Legalization in Georgia

Despite years of failed attempts to push through gambling legislation, advocates are optimistic about the upcoming 2024 legislative session

Sports betting has emerged as the front-runner in the race to legalize gambling in Georgia, overshadowing discussions on casinos and horse racing. 

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones Foresees Smooth Sailing for Sports Betting

Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, a staunch supporter of sports betting, believes it should be an “easy lift” compared to other forms of gambling, reported The Macon Telegraph. Jones, who introduced a sports betting bill in 2020, asserts that sports betting enjoys more popularity than casinos and horse racing among Georgians.

The recent legislative session saw a significant development when former Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton opined that sports betting could be legalized without amending the state’s constitution. Melton categorized sports betting as akin to a lottery game, allowing oversight by the Georgia Lottery Corp., already incorporated into the constitution in 1992.

Despite this, divisions emerged among lawmakers regarding the best approach. Some favored a constitutional amendment to involve Georgia voters in the decision, while an alternative Senate measure aimed to include sports betting in the constitution. Both measures were defeated, postponing any decision until 2024.

Georgia’s Upcoming Legislative Session Poised for Sports Betting Breakthrough

Lt. Gov. Jones anticipates that the Senate will lead the charge on sports betting in the upcoming legislative session, with the Metro Atlanta Chamber once again throwing its weight behind the cause. The chamber, closely aligned with Atlanta’s professional sports teams, sees legalized sports betting as a catalyst for increased fan engagement.

Marshall Guest, senior vice president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, emphasized the potential economic benefits, citing that 38 states have already legalized sports betting since a 2018 US Supreme Court decision granted states that authority.

Lawmakers are considering various avenues for legalization, with State Rep. Ron Stephens advocating for a constitutional amendment. Stephens argues that the tax benefits of sports betting make the constitutional amendment route more appealing, even though it requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate.

Supporters highlight the potential tax revenue, earmarked for Georgia’s popular HOPE Scholarships and Pre-Kindergarten programs, as a compelling reason to move forward with sports betting legalization. Advocates believe that emphasizing these educational and community benefits could sway the necessary two-thirds majority in an election year.

While some have floated the idea of combining sports betting, casinos, and horse racing into a single constitutional amendment, skeptics like Stephens argue that such a comprehensive approach might be overly ambitious. As Georgia gears up for another legislative session, the push for sports betting legalization appears stronger than ever.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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