Georgia Bill Filed to Legalize Online Sports Betting
If you live in Georgia, you may be able to bet on sport online in the near future. Last week, Georgia State Representative Ron Stephens filed a bill to legalize sports betting in Georgia. If passes, sports betting would become only the second form of legal gambling in the state behind the lottery.
The four professional sports teams in the state back the bill, which could play a key role in getting the bill passed.
HB 86 Filed to Legalize Online Sports Betting
Presently, the only form of legalized gambling in Georgia is the lottery. The state does not have real money online casinos or even live sports betting. That may change in the near future if lawmakers have their way.
Republican State Rep. Ron Stephens filed HB 86 last week as a measure to legalize sports betting in Georgia. The bill has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Rep. Matt Dollar, Rep. Shelly Hutchinson, Rep. Billy Mitchell, Rep. Al Williams, and Rep. Lee Hawkins.
The bill will allow the Georgia Lottery to regulate sports betting, thus allowing the measure to move forward without changing the state Constitution. Titled the Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Act, any company offering sports betting in the state will be taxed at 16%. Proceeds from those taxes will benefit the HOPE scholarship.
The bill does not include other forms of online gambling, so you will not be able to play online slots or other casino games. However, as we are seeing in Indiana, sports betting can often lead to other forms of gambling being brought to the table.
Pro Sports Teams Support Measure
Not surprisingly, the four professional sports teams in the state are all supporting this measure. The Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and the Atlanta United have joined forces to form the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance. The purpose of the group is to work closely with lawmakers to legalize sports betting in Georgia. They’ve been lobbying the government for a couple of years to legalize sports betting.
Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin spoke to WSB-TV in Atlanta about the bill, stating, “Billions of dollars a year are already being gambled in Georgia and the state gets nothing, no tax, no benefit.” He further talked about how sports need to engage with younger fans to hold their interests. Koonin thinks that online sports betting is one way to keep their interest.
Atlanta Braves CEO and President Derek Schiller spoke with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the bill, stating, “We don’t receive direct revenue from this. This is good for our fans, we think, from a fan engagement perspective. But it’s also good for the state because it drives new tax revenue to the state, especially in this unique time that we’re in and going to be recovering from.”
However, the pro sports teams only support mobile sports betting. They are not supporting brick and mortar style sports betting. Part of this may be the policies of some sports leagues that discourage or even prohibit players from gambling at casinos.
State Could Get $100 Million in Tax Revenue
Looking at the bottom line, Rep. Stephens believes that the state would get close to $100 million in tax revenue from sports betting. According to reports, the George Lottery contributed $1.2 billion to the HOPE scholarship last year. This would be close to a 10% increase in overall revenue.
The big question now is whether this bill has legs to move forward. We like the fact that this initial bill has bipartisan support. This bodes well for the bill once it starts moving through the legislative process. If lawmakers pay attention to New Jersey and other states that have regulated sports betting, they will see that there’s a tremendous upside for sports betting.
If we were to put odds on this bill passing this year, we’d say that the bill has a 60 to 70% chance of passing. We will keep you updated on this bill as there are further developments.