Featured in this article:
  • Speaker of the House believes there is new support for Georgia casinos.
  • Whether to try a comprehensive gambling expansion or go piece by piece is still up for debate.
  • A stand-alone sports betting measure may be most popular.

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Professional franchises like the Hawks would partner with sportsbooks under the Georgia betting plan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The Speaker of the House stated a Georgia casino plan will likely be on the agenda of the 2022 legislative session. However, the state constitution would require voters to approve any expanded gambling options in the state.

Currently, Georgia is one of seven states without a casino, whether tribal or commercial. A comprehensive gambling measure could address sports betting and horse racing in addition to commercial casinos.

What the Georgia Casino Plan Could Look Like

The Georgia General Assembly convened for its 2022 session today, January 10. The session is scheduled to run through March 31, so lawmakers will have little time addressing numerous priorities.

Downtown Atlanta Georgia

There are few gambling options for Atlanta, Georgia residents.

House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) says there is an increased appetite for casino expansion this year. But other legislative items may take precedent. Crime, mental health initiatives, and even the state’s income tax rate are more complicated issues that will draw lawmakers’ attention at the start of the session.

Previous attempts to legalize a Georgia casino plan failed. The state’s polarized political climate stopped an attempt to regulate sports betting last year. And in a state lacking any casino, pari-mutuel horse racing, or sportsbooks, any gambling plan is bound to be controversial.

Comprehensive Georgia Gambling Reform Difficult

To amend the state’s constitution, Peach State lawmakers must approve putting a measure to the state’s voters. And politicians in both the House and Senate must grant two-thirds support to placing an amendment on the ballot.

This is a high bar to clear. Once a measure is put to voters, only a simple majority passage is required for the amendment to become law. Lawmakers are split on whether to try to combine all gambling expansion into one measure or split them into three (or more) amendments.

Another state representative, Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) thinks moving on sports betting first may be the right strategy. Though he recently supported a comprehensive Georgia casino plan, now he believes a stand-alone sports betting measure in 2022 is the best move.

Then, once voters have weighed in on regulating sports betting, lawmakers can move on to full-service casinos and horse racing. Because sportsbook gambling is widely considered the most popular, putting a measure to voters could be an excellent gauge on the electorate’s appetite for more gambling options.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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