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Sports Betting Debate Heats Up in Georgia

Sports Betting Debate Heats Up in Georgia
Mike Noblin
Written by Mike Noblin
February 8, 2023

21+ to wager. Please Gamble Responsibly. Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY) Call 1-800-327-5050 (MA).

Georgia is on the brink of joining the numerous states that have already legalized sports betting. A group of senators has introduced Senate Bill 57, which, if passed, would allow up to 18 online and retail sports betting licenses, creating a new source of revenue for the state.

Nonetheless, gaining approval for gambling could still be an uphill battle in Georgia due to opposition from citizens. Supporters of the bill continue their efforts to bring this form of entertainment and potential new revenue source to the state through legislation and education about its benefits. Will Georgians get access to legal gambling? Only time will tell.

Details of the Bill

A group of Georgia senators has outlined a clear plan for legalizing sports betting which includes the formation of a new commission and eligibility for those 21 years or older to place wagers.

Under the proposed bill, 18 licenses would be available; 9 going to professional sports teams such as the Falcons, Braves, and Hawks, while the other 9 would be awarded after a competitive bidding process with many top-tier sportsbooks in the running.

A $100,000 licensing fee and a $1 million yearly renewal fee are part of the plans, with taxes set at 20%.

Reception of the Bill

The introduction of SB 57 has been met with optimism by proponents of sports betting. Georgia State Senator Burt Jones, one of the sponsors of the bill, said in a statement: “I am confident that this legislation will provide Georgians with access to safe and regulated sports wagering while also providing additional revenue to our state.”

Backing from Atlanta Sports Teams

Sports betting is enthusiastically backed by a coalition of Atlanta professional sports teams, including the Atlanta Hawks. At a hearing in 2021, CEO Steve Koonin testified that legal sports betting would be an essential part of fan engagement during such trying times for professional sports. A few months later, US sports betting heavyweight FanDuel announced plans to open an IT and production facility in Atlanta.

Nonetheless, gaining approval for gambling could still be an uphill battle in Georgia. It is one of the only states without casinos run either commercially or tribally — even a 2020 campaign to put casino gambling up for a vote did not pass muster with citizens. Supporters will continue their efforts to bring this form of entertainment and potential new revenue source to the state through legislation and education about its benefits.

Sports betting has become increasingly popular in the United States since the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports gambling in 2018. Since then, 18 states have legalized some form of sports betting, and more are expected to follow suit. Sports betting offers fans a way to engage with their favorite teams and players in a whole new way, and many states see it as a potential revenue stream.

Previous Attempts to Legalize

Gambling in Georgia is a contentious issue, with many lawmakers pushing for the legalization of sports betting and other forms of gambling. Currently, Georgians and visitors to the state have access to the Georgia Lottery, but there are no other legal betting options.

Several attempts have been made over the years to legalize casino gambling, but none have been successful so far. Despite this, lawmakers are continuing their push for sports betting and other forms of legalized gambling in the upcoming legislative session.

Replicating State Lottery Success

The state lottery has been successful since its launch in 1993, and it could be argued that this success could be replicated with other forms of legalized gambling. However, opponents of such measures say that it would lead to increased problem gambling and other social issues.

It remains to be seen whether or not Georgia will join the growing list of states legalizing sports betting and other forms of gambling. With more states legalizing these activities every year, it may only be a matter of time before Georgians can enjoy some form of legal gambling within their own borders.

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21+ to wager. Please Gamble Responsibly. Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY) Call 1-800-327-5050 (MA).

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