An attempt to regulate Georgia sports betting plus other forms of gambling passed out of a House committee on Monday. The measure would allow state voters to have their say on whether they want to amend the state’s constitution to allow more forms of gaming.

Currently, Georgia’s only form of regulated gambling is a lottery. This effort would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot asking whether the state should allow “sports betting and other forms of betting and gambling.”

House Committee Approves Georgia Sports Betting Question

In the state Capitol in Atlanta, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee advanced the Georgia gambling plan. Because it is a constitutional amendment, it would require two-thirds support from both chambers in the legislature plus approval by voters.

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

The main measure, SR 135, cleared the Georgia Senate last year and has been revived by the Economic Development and Tourism Committee. However, due to legislative rules and small tweaks in language, there is no guarantee the Senate will again support the sportsbook bill. Earlier efforts this year to expand gambling options in the Peach State failed to garner momentum. These include a plan to legalize horse racing (and historical horse racing machines) and a bill to build the state’s first casinos.

The committee Chairman, Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), voiced support for regulating wagering. His comments reflect growing understanding amongst lawmakers that Georgia is losing out to its neighbors as well as unregulated sportsbooks. The Georgia House Speaker, David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) has issued similar support.

Georgia Gambling Could Rapidly Expand

Now that the measure has cleared the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee, it will proceed to the House floor for a vote from all lawmakers. Again, to further advance, the proposed constitutional amendment needs at least two-thirds support in the House.

The new language calling for a vote on “sports betting and other forms of betting and gambling” could be problematic for the measure’s passage. But if it were to succeed, Georgia could quickly go from laws that are gambling prohibitive to a full-fledged gambling industry.

There could be up to 18 mobile sportsbooks licensed by the state, each paying a $1 million annual fee for operating rights. On top of that new revenue, the betting platforms would be taxed at 20% of their betting revenues. Of the 18 sportsbooks, nine would be tethered to partnerships with Georgia sports franchises.

Beyond sports betting, the drive to legalize pari-mutuel horse racing and accompanying historical horse racing machines could also be revived. Additionally, casino operators would surely lobby to build a limited number of casino resorts. Destination casinos in Atlanta and the tourist town of Savannah could draw huge business.

Under the terms of the proposal, gambling revenue would go to pre-K education and college scholarships for students throughout Georgia.

Dave Consolazio

Dave Consolazio has been passionate about writing and sports journalism since his high school years. He has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from USC where he worked with the school's radio and television stations. His work has been featured in SportsbookReview, Sports Illustrated and SB Nation. Dave's experience ranges across multiple fields in the gambling industry. You can find his sports, casino, and poker articles in GambleOnline.co.

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