Featured in this article:
  • The only legal gambling in Georgia is the state lottery.
  • An attempt to authorize pari-mutuel horse race betting did not receive enough support in the Senate.
  • Other gambling expansion measures likely doomed in 2022 as well.

3 Minute Read

Supporters believe allowing Georgia horse racing would benefit rural areas through breeding and training programs.

On a critical day of the 2022 legislative session, state senators voted against a measure that would have allowed betting on Georgia horse racing. Though the bill received majority support, the 33-20 vote in favor did not reach the necessary two-thirds requirement to move forward.

Because any new forms of gambling, including pari-mutuel horse racing, are prohibited by the Georgia Constitution, an amendment is required. Georgia Constitutional amendments require two-thirds support in both chambers of legislature and subsequent support from voters.

Georgia Horse Racing One Part of Gambling Expansion Proposals

The proposal to legalize pari-mutuel horse race betting in Georgia is not the only gambling proposal before lawmakers this year. Another measure that would regulate sportsbooks is still alive in the House. However, the defeat of pari-mutuel horse racing does not bode well for any gambling expansion in 2022.

jockey horse racing aqueduct foxtail

Georgia residents will not be allowed to vote on whether to allow horse race betting.

Last year, Georgia gambling expansion supporters tried to combine all the disparate gambling proposals into one measure. Georgia lawmakers then got to debate whether to allow resort casinos, video lottery terminal parlors, sportsbooks, and pari-mutuel horse racing. Some supporters believed addressing all the gambling issues at once would help its passage.

However, Georgia’s highly charged politics prevented adoption of the comprehensive gambling expansion proposal. Whether it would have passed muster with voters remains unknown. Georgia voters approved a state lottery system in 1992 and have not had the chance to vote on any other gambling proposals since.

Now, it appears piecemeal attempts at expanding Georgia’s gambling landscape are also doomed.

Gambling Supporters Do Not Understand Lawmakers’ Opposition

Support for the Georgia horse racing measure broke across bipartisan lines. Republican and Democratic factions voted for and against allowing pari-mutuel horse racing in the state.

State Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) expressed consternation with other lawmakers. He stated: “I am disappointed in my colleagues. I was really hoping you would let this go to the ballot. That’s all this does is send it to the ballot.” Notably, Senator Mullis wore a jockey’s helmet when he first advocated for the bill.

Though Senator Mullis successfully moved for reconsideration of the bill after its defeat, it did not gain any additional support. Tuesday was what is known as “Crossover Day” in the Georgia legislature, meaning any bill needed to clear at least one chamber to have a chance of passing during this session.

If horse racing were to have been legalized, the bill would have allowed up to five pari-mutuel horse racing tracks in the state. Like neighboring South Carolina, supporters argued that horse racing is a natural boon for rural economies if only the state expressed its support.

Though other gambling measures still technically are alive, 2022 does not appear to be the year Georgia voters get a chance to authorize any gambling expansion. In addition to horse racing and sports betting, a separate measure would allow casinos in Georgia for the first time. But despite gambling’s overall popularity nationwide, Georgia lawmakers are still fighting against any sliver of expansion.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

Back To Top
Back To Top