On Friday, the Georgia Senate passed a gambling bill that would see sports betting legalized in the state. Revenues from the industry would go towards college scholarships on a needs-basis as well as broadband internet for rural areas, and health care programs.
Senate Resolution 135 would place a referendum on the state ballot, asking residents if they wish to see online sports betting offered in Georgia. If approved, an amendment would be made to the constitution of the state. The measure passed with a vote of 41-10. Along with this bill, Senate Bill 142 was approved with a vote of 34-17. This measure would set up how the new industry would operate.
Details of Georgia Sports Betting
If the state is able to legalize sports betting, operators would need to pay a $10,000 application fee to get started. If approved, the operator would then pay an annual license fee of $100,000. At least six companies would be authorized to offer services in the state. Those offering services would need to pay a 16% income tax to the state.
Supporters of the effort expect that sports betting could generate up to $100 million in revenues on the high end. On the low end, around $30 million is expected. Critics of the measures feel that the numbers are an exaggeration.
The movement was made in the Senate regarding these two bills due to the recent democratic additions. The votes were there to ensure the measures were approved. Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Elena Parent added an amendment to the bill that requires at least 50% of the revenues to go to scholarships for students in need.
This falls in line with what Georgia has done over the past few years regarding the lottery. The state lottery uses funds to provide money towards the HOPE Scholarship fund. This merit-based program helps students receive money for college.
To be able to take part in sports betting, players will need to be at least 21 years of age. Players are able to wager on professional sports teams and events, as long as teams from Georgia are not included.
It is expected that the details of the legislation will change. The House is set to consider a similar piece of legislation, House Bill 86 soon. Once this bill is considered, we should have a better idea as to how the industry would work in Georgia.
On the Senate side, SR 135 and SB 142 now go to the House to be considered. It will be some time still before we know the outcome of these two measures. Like many bills on the topic, it has taken weeks if not months for any consideration to be given.
Georgia gambling supporters have tried for many years to see legislation passed in the state to expand, be it with casinos, horse racing, or sports betting. The effort pushed harder back in 2019 when the US Supreme Court ruled that sports betting was up for legalization in individual states.
With this latest effort, there is plenty of support. The Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance is on board and ready to see sports betting begin. This group includes the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta United, Atlanta Falcons, and the Atlanta Hawks.