Georgia Revives Hope in Sports Betting to Sustain Economy

Although Georgia is known for its anti-gambling stance, the state’s financial woes have pushed lawmakers to seriously reconsider sports betting to fill some dents created by the pandemic.

Tax revenues generated by sports betting in Georgia is being viewed as a possible way to fill the budgeting gap. Like a contagion, the situation has spread across the cash-starved states in need of an infusion of cash. All of a sudden, legalized sports betting is back to the limelight.

State residents are already gambling online at offshore online casinos and sportsbooks that accept Georgia players, but the state sees no tax revenue from it.

Showing up in Another Bill

Apparently, Georgia sports betting didn’t even have its own bill this time around, as it was supplemented in a separate bill altogether. Interestingly, House Bill 903 dedicates more time addressing traffic tickets than sports betting.

It was Senator Burt Jones, R-Jackson, who took the measure, stating that the management responsibilities for sports betting should go the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

The bill also included online betting platforms, like DraftKings and FanDuel, to which they might be allowed. The key is that they would require licenses from the lottery to operate legally.

The legal age for sports betting would be set at 21 years or above.

According to the conservative estimates regarding possible tax revenues from the gambling industry, $60 million annually. Senator Jones reiterated the need for legal sports betting in Georgia. He said that

“online betting is an answer to adding significant revenue to a system that is moving down the road… and you’re taking an activity that is currently going on right now.”

The revenues from the betting industry are expected to reimburse to funding Georgia’s HOPE scholarships and state university students.

The Bill Will Begin Piercing Through

Last Friday saw the passage of House Bill 903 through Senate Special Judiciary Committee vote. The next stage is the State Senate. The committee that is chaired by Senator Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta, comprises all Democratic members.

The fact that sports betting has been a taboo in the General Assembly has made it more interesting. In the past, the majority of lawmakers have been rejecting the measure.

Not too long ago, it was this March that saw Jones’ Senate Bill 403 for legalized sports betting being thrown into the trash bin. Jones’s measure was aimed at seeking voters’ decisions, but the hostile lawmakers didn’t authorize the majority for the measure.

Meanwhile, those who favor legalizing sports betting have long since asked for the voters to be the ones with the final say, not the lawmakers.

However, the unusual circumstances have likely paved the way for a measure that never received majority support. Apparently, the pandemic-led crisis has coincided with the reopening of the door to sports betting once again.

The dismal economic condition of Georgia has made more lawmakers to sit on the table to find more revenue sources to fill the deficit. Although for the sake of the economy and not for the purpose of entertainment, the number of sports betting support is increasing to the level that could do a miracle in the foreseeable future: legalize sports betting.