For one the same reasons that many other states have considered legalizing sports betting, Georgia lawmakers will, too. It all comes down to money.
Weeks after the state’s Speaker of the House announced a new committee on Economic Growth, the first meeting of the Study Committee on Gaming and Parimutuel Wagering on Horse Racing and Growing Georgia’s Equine Industry will convene. And key to the discussion will be the legalization of sports betting, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Georgia lawmakers declined to consider sports betting during the 2018 and 2019 sessions, but in March of last year, a group called the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition released a study claiming that building a suburban Atlanta racino would generate $1.2 billion in economic impact.
Pro teams will have voice
Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) Stephens, long a proponent of casinos, and Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), who’s supported horse racing, will make exploring sports betting a priority.
The Georgia Lottery will host the initial meeting on Tuesday, and a week later at Sun Trust Park, lawmakers will hear from high-level executives from each of Atlanta’s professional sports teams — Atlanta Braves President of Business Derek Schiller, Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, and Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. Since the United States Supeme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, Major League Baseball and the NBA have embraced sports betting and have been lobbying across the country for a payout to the professional leagues from sports books and an “official league data” mandate.
The NFL becomes the last of the "big four" to partner w/@Sportradar to allow their data to be distributed for sports betting purposes.
“undoubtedly one of the most important partnerships in Sportradar’s history." – Sportradar CEO https://t.co/E1JoaDtr2w
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) August 13, 2019
The NFL has lagged in terms of publicly embracing sports betting, but in recent months partnered with Sportradar, its first data partner.
Georgia lawmakers say the pro teams should be heard as they consider how — and where — to legalize sports betting.
“They will come talk about it and explain how it might work,” Beach told the AJC. “What they’re trying to do is drive attendance. The fans want it. The franchises need it.”
What would sports betting look like?
Whether or not Georgia politicians will consider allowing sports betting at the pro venues is an open question, but different from a year ago, one that has been addressed in jurisdictions across the country with mixed results. Washington, D.C., and Illinois, both of which have legal sports betting but have not yet launched, will allow pro venues to offer their own sportsbooks, both physical and mobile. New Jersey has a physical sportsbook operated by FanDuel at The Meadowlands sports complex where the Giants and Jets play, but Pennsylvania’s pro stadiums do not — and cannot — have sports books on site.
Update on this Illinois story: Per a spokesperson for Rep. Bob Rita, it's not looking like "any sports betting changes" will be part of the veto session, "but the IL Gaming Board is still working through all of its rules to implement everything, so that could change."
Stay tuned https://t.co/tfsqX1uksa
— Brian Pempus (@brianpempus) August 23, 2019
Georgia doesn’t have an existing gaming infrastructure, such as casinos or racetracks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t build sports betting from the ground up. Washington, D.C. didn’t either, but it approved physical and mobile sports betting last December.
Tennessee took a different tack, voting instead to legalize mobile sports betting only. The Volunteer State is the only state to do that, and two months after legalization is slowly beginning to work on regulations.
In both cases, it will likely take close to a year from the date legislation was approved for sports betting to go live, as opposed to Iowa and Indiana, both of which have vibrant gaming industries, and needed only a few months to go from approval to launch.