Georgia is among the state’s still hostile to almost all forms of gambling. However, gambling expansion will be a much-discussed topic the next time state lawmakers convene.

Most types of gaming are illegal under the state’s Constitution. Therefore, gambling supporters hope to place an amendment proposal on next fall’s ballot. Voters would then be able to weigh in on whether Georgia should update its gambling laws and what games should be legalized.

Previous Efforts at Georgia Gambling Expansion Failed

Despite the state’s rapidly changing political landscape, Georgia still lags most of its neighbors regarding gambling. Tennessee became the first state to legalize online-only sports betting a year ago. Florida is in the middle of a dramatic reshaping of its gaming landscape and regulations.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (AP Photo/Elijah Nouvelage, File)

However, during this year’s first legislative session, Georgia politicians failed to make headway on any gambling expansion.

At the Capitol in Atlanta, gambling measures require bipartisan support to advance. The state’s divisive partisanship resulted in the last attempt at gambling reform becoming a political football. Any constitutional amendment proposal requires two-thirds support in both legislative chambers.

Now, backers plan to introduce new gambling bills during the upcoming special legislative session and come January 2022.

Georgia Could Get Casinos and Sports Betting

Right now, there are no brick-and-mortar casinos in Georgia. The state does not have any slot parlors, tribal casinos, pari-mutuel horse racing, or racinos. And online gambling is unregulated.

2021 saw Georgia gambling expansion get farther than in previous years. The state senate approved a sports wagering constitutional amendment, before it got lost in legislative gridlock.

Some gambling backers want to aim higher. Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) hopes to avoid a Tennessee-like model. Though he supports gambling expansion, Rep. Powell believes the online-only sports betting model lacks job creation benefits.

Downtown Atlanta Georgia
There are few gambling options for Atlanta, Georgia residents.

Instead, land-based casinos could spur new construction and permanent employment. Like Georgia, Tennessee does not have any brick-and-mortar gambling infrastructure.

Could One Gambling Reform Amendment Be the Solution?

Georgia lawmakers have attempted to pass numerous amendment proposals on gambling. In the past, each gambling issue has been debated separately. For example, one measure would potentially legalize sports wagering while another would allow casino gaming.

Now, expansion supporters believe one all-encompassing gambling amendment may have a better shot.

Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) has led previous legislative drives for expanded gaming options. He believes that voters should have a say on all aspects of Georgia gambling: “Let the people decide: Do we want to gamble or do we not?”

With strong backing from all the state’s professional sports teams, sports betting may be vital to any reform. Regulating wagering is generally popular and growing nationwide.

Rep. Stephens believes getting an amendment on Georgia’s November 2022 ballot is realistic. According to him, “It looks more encouraging than ever.”

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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