The push for legalized sports betting continued in the Georgia Legislature early this week, as a pair of bills were discussed Monday and Tuesday. Another measure will be discussed later this week, as three separate pieces of legislation aim to legalize sports wagering in Georgia.
HB 380 received a Tuesday hearing with the House Higher Education Committee, which allowed for significant public comment. The committee didn’t take action on the bill.
SB 57 did receive action this week, as it passed through a Senate committee Monday evening, moving it closer to a vote on the Senate floor. Neither SB 57 nor HB 380 plans to use a constitutional amendment to legalize sports wagering.
SB 172 pairs with SR 140 and would enable sports betting to be legalized in Georgia through a constitutional amendment put before voters. That legislation is expected to be discussed in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on Thursday.
The essential feature of pari-mutuel wagering is that participants do not bet against the house (as they do in sports betting). Rather they wager against each other and determine the odds for an event, which are not known in advance, by their betting among themselves.
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) February 19, 2023
HB 380 bill discussion
Rep. Marcus Wiedower shared a few tweaks made from last week to HB 380, a mobile-only sports betting bill. Among the most notable changes is an increase in the tax rate from 15% of adjusted gross income to 20%. Additionally, the bill’s update requires sports betting operators to pay taxes on revenue generated from promotions.
A representative with the Sports Betting Alliance, which is composed of BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbook, said the group is accepting of the tax-related changes.
After Wiedower shared the bill’s alterations, public comment was allowed. Some speakers argued against legalized sports betting, raising issues about increased problem gambling. Advocates, meanwhile, spoke about the need to move Georgians from illegal betting platforms onto regulated platforms.
Committee members will need to weigh the various arguments before ultimately taking action on the bill.
SB 57 passes through committee
SB 57 passed through the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tourism Monday evening. The bill is expected to be sent to the Rules Committee, where it will be scheduled for a vote by the entire Senate. The timing of that discussion is still undetermined.
SB 57 is one of a few competing sports betting bills in Georgia, and it differs from other bills in part due to its sanctioning of horse racing in the state, with inclusion of fixed-odds wagering. Horse racing figures to be a point of debate in coming days and weeks, as some legislators will likely feel more comfortable passing a bill that includes only sports betting.
The bill, which calls for making sports betting a lottery game, would allow for up to 18 mobile sports betting licenses. It would also allow for retail sports wagering. Sports betting operators would pay a 20% tax on adjusted gross revenue.