With upcoming legislative deadlines, the push to legalize sports betting in Georgia ramped up on Tuesday.
Crossover day in the Georgia legislature is Monday, meaning a bill has to make its way through the chamber it was introduced by early next week or it will no longer be considered this session, which concludes at the end of March.
SB 172, the enabling legislation for SR 140, passed through the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on Tuesday evening. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Bill Cowsert, aims to legalize mobile and retail sports betting in Georgia through a constitutional amendment, which requires the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate before it can be presented to voters as a simple majority ballot measure.
Cowsert’s bill would allow for retail sports betting and an unlimited number of mobile sports betting licenses, with a minimum of six required. The legislation proposes a tax rate between 20-25% of adjusted gross revenue, depending on the type of bet generating the revenue. Cowsert estimates that legal sports betting could generate roughly $50 million in annual tax revenue for the state.
Cowsert is also placing a strong emphasis on responsible gambling measures as he crafts his legislation.
Multiple active bills
Cowsert’s bill isn’t the only one seeking to legalize sports betting in Georgia this legislative session, but it’s one of just two that would require a constitutional amendment. Of that pair, Cowsert’s has the most realistic chance of passing. HR 210 would legalize sports betting, parimutuel betting, and casino gaming in Georgia, but that effort is highly unlikely to succeed because it includes more than just sports wagering and would require a constitutional amendment.
SB 57, which would legalize sports betting as a lottery game, is soon expected to be discussed on the Senate floor. SB 57 wants to legalize fixed-odds horse racing wagering as well, a topic that could spark controversy as it makes its way through the legislature. The bill would allow for retail sports betting, as well as up to 18 mobile sports betting licenses. The tax rate on adjusted gross revenue would be 20%.
HB 380, a mobile-only bill, made its way through the House Higher Education Committee on Monday, but has yet to be put to a vote on the House floor. This bill would allow for up to 16 mobile sports betting licenses in the state, and a recent amendment bumps the proposed tax rate to 25% of adjusted gross revenue.