Online Sports Betting Legalization in Georgia Suffers Setback

Georgia’s Democrats will withhold support for bills that require bipartisan support, including a bill that would see the legalization of online sports betting in Georgia.

Democratic Party Withholds Support on Bipartisan Bills

The potential legalization of online sports betting in Georgia may take longer than initially expected. Georgia Democrats have begun withholding their support on legislative bills that require bipartisan support in order to pass. The party’s decision comes in response to a move by Republicans that could roll back the public’s access to voting.

The move would impact a number of bills, and one of the first seems to be House Bill 86, which would see the legalization of online sports betting in the state of Georgia. The bill was set for a vote on Thursday but was withdrawn at the last moment.

According to Macon Democrat and House Minority Leader James Beverly, now was the appropriate time for the Democratic party to use its available leverage. At the same time, Beverly said he was aware of the fact that this strategy would only work in cases where Republicans are divided on an issue. Currently, the Republican party holds the majority of seats in the Georgia House and Senate.

Democrats’ Decision Is in Response to Republican’s Restrictive Voting Laws

The Democratic party’s decision is a reaction to a series of bills introduced by the Republicans this year. Collectively, the more-than-dozen bills would have a negative impact on early voting access. The proposals include a photo ID requirement for absentee voting, restrictions on who can vote absentee and even a ban on ballot drop boxes, among many others. Some proposals are currently moving forward.

According to Democrats and voting rights groups, the bills are a clear reaction to Former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about election fraud. Furthermore, opponents claim that the bills would have a disproportionately strong impact on Black voters, whose engagement proved crucial for the Democratic party’s victories in Georgia.

Party Conflict to Likely Slow Down Legalization

The Democratic party’s current strategy could potentially slow down House Bill 86. If introduced, the bill would legalize online sports betting – a move that many other states have either taken or are considering. As it currently stands, the bill would likely need strong bipartisan support if it is to pass.

Part of the reason why is the very nature of gambling itself. Some conservative and religious factions in the Republican party have been opposed to gambling on either moral or ethical grounds for a long time. This means that the bill is unlikely to receive unanimous or majority support from the Republicans and would need Democratic votes to pass.

Savannah Republican Rep. Ron Stephens, who is the chief sponsor of House Bill 86, has so far not commented on the situation.

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