A group of Georgia senators introduced a sports betting bill Tuesday, potentially paving the way for the legalization of sports wagering in the state in 2023.
The bill would not require a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in the state, which could expedite the legalization process since it wouldn’t have to go before voters. It could also lead to pushback from legislators who believe a constitutional amendment is necessary to legalize any form of wagering in Georgia.
The history of Georgia's constitution and regulation of gambling strongly supports the position that the default rule in the state is a wholesale ban on betting with non-profit bingos and the state lottery being the exception. Legislators are playing in unstable terrain. #gapol https://t.co/8gzHNJDTeX
— Anthony Michael Kreis (@AnthonyMKreis) February 1, 2023
The bill, SB 57, sets out to create the “Georgia Sports Betting Commission,” which would regulate sports betting. The bill has yet to be sent to a specific committee, but Georgia’s legislative session lasts through the end of March, and bills shared in 2023 can carry over to 2024.
Tennessee, Georgia’s neighbor to the north, is the only state directly neighboring Georgia with legal mobile sports betting. Tennessee has more than 10 mobile sportsbooks active in the state, including BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, and WynnBET.
Those major operators could soon be available in Georgia, as the proposed bill would allow for up to 18 mobile licenses. Nine of those licenses would be given to professional sports teams, as well as the PGA and NASCAR, while the other nine licenses would be doled out through a competitive bidding process. Each licensee would be allowed one skin.
Licenses for mobile sportsbooks would cost $100,000, with an annual renewal fee of $1 million. The bill also allows for retail sports betting kiosks, and a retail sports betting distributor licensee would pay a $10,000 application fee and an annual renewal fee of $100,000.
The legislation taxes adjusted sports wagering revenue at 20%.
Under the bill, Georgia bettors could wager on professional sports, college sports, and plenty of other events, including esports. Betting on in-state college teams would be allowed, which makes sense, as interest in the state for the University of Georgia’s football program is massive. The Bulldogs have won the last two national championships.
Likelihood of passage
By avoiding a constitutional amendment, there’s a reasonable chance the bill passes in 2023. There has also been an increased push this year from key stakeholders attempting to legalize sports betting, a good sign for sports betting proponents.
The Georgia Constitution does not stand in the way of the legislative authorization of sports betting. It prohibits only 3 categories of gambling — casino gambling, pari-mutuel betting, and privately-operated lotteries (with a carve-out for the state-operated lottery). pic.twitter.com/7n4DfH6N6b
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) February 1, 2023
Burt Jones, the state’s new lieutenant governor, is an outspoken supporter of sports betting. Even Gov. Brian Kemp is seemingly more willing to legalize sports betting in 2023 than in prior years.
Supporters argue that added tax revenue for the state is worth legalizing sports betting, especially given the existence of offshore operators accepting illegal wagers from Georgians. Expect pushback from some legislators who are opposed to gambling on moral grounds, however.