Georgia Senate Rejects Sports Betting Proposal

March 15, 2023
georgia sports betting

Georgia’s state senate has refused to pass legislation legalizing and regulating sports betting within its borders. The defeat of Senate Bill 57 is one of several efforts to legalize sports betting for Georgians in recent times in the midst of the fight against illegal gambling. Despite the opposition of some parties within the state, the proposed legislation to legalize sports betting in Atlanta has the support of various business groups and professional sports teams.

Opponents of the Bill

Senate Bill 57 was defeated by a vote of 37-19 in the Senate. The bill would have required the state lottery to offer horse racing sports betting as long as the track paid out winnings rather than using a wagering pool system. The traditional system of pari-mutuel wagering allows the odds to be adjusted until the race begins.

The bill received insufficient support in the chamber before the Legislature’s internal deadline, lowering its chances of becoming law. Such bills, on the other hand, can be resurrected as part of other legislation if their language is placed in other bills that have already passed a chamber.

The failure of Senate Bill 57 is the second of four failed sports betting legalization efforts in the state. Several other Georgia legislators have tried to expand gambling in the state for years, but have made no progress since voters approved the state lottery in 1992.

Many people believe that Georgia will eventually have to legalize some forms of sports betting and US online gaming sites because it is already legal in 34 other states, albeit with limited in-person gambling options.

Backing the Bill’s Rejection

The 19 voters thought Georgia should legalize sports betting because it could generate more revenue by legalizing forms of gambling that are currently illegal. According to Sen. Brandon Beach, a Republican from Alpharetta, Georgia, there is a lot of unregulated sports betting going on in underground markets via bookies, which are more harmful to individuals.

The 37 opponents, on the other hand, had a different opinion. They all agreed that Georgia should not expand its gambling options beyond the state lottery. They believe it will generate enough revenue to fund prekindergarten programs and college scholarships. The lottery generates approximately $1.5 billion in revenue each year.

According to Sen. Marty Harbin, a Republican from Tyrone, gambling involves winners and losers, which means that even when the game is played fairly, there must be a loser. As a result, the house or establishment hosting the gambling activity almost always makes a profit.

If Senate Bill 57 is passed, the proceeds from horse racing sports betting would be used to fund college scholarships and preschool programs, which the lottery is already required to fund under the state constitution.

Senate Bill 57 Support Base and Future Prospects

Several individuals and organizations supported the proposed legislation and were disappointed by its failure. The bill was sponsored by Statesboro Republican Senator Billy Hickman, a horse owner, and racer. He argued that legalizing horse racing betting would have a greater economic impact than other forms of sports gambling because it would benefit farmers and horse breeders.

Earlier this year, former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harold Melton wrote an opinion on behalf of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce stating that sports betting could be legalized in Georgia without requiring a constitutional amendment.

Bill Cowsert, Chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, is also a supporter of allowing sports betting in Georgia. Prior to that, he attempted to persuade voters to amend the state constitution to legalize sports betting and to establish a gaming commission to oversee and regulate the practice.

Cowsert expressed disappointment that the bill was rejected by the Senate. He went on to explain that the Senate has clearly stated that they do not want sports betting to be legalized in 2023.

Sports betting is not permissible under the state constitution, according to Congressional analysts. Because the provisions in the state constitution were ambiguous, Legislative Counsel Director Rick Ruskell advised in 2019 that a constitutional amendment be introduced to legalize sports betting.

Sports betting supporters claim that it has the potential to generate $30 million to $100 million in annual revenue for the state. Opponents, including those who believe gambling is immoral, addictive, and contributes to criminal activity, have argued that these figures are exaggerated, leaving them in a bind.

Conclusion

The failure of Senate Bill 57 to pass in Georgia’s Senate demonstrates that the state is not yet willing to make the transition to regulated sports betting. However, the current wave of legislation in the United States and elsewhere suggests that change is possible in the near future. Currently, there is the issue that many Georgians are still gambling with unregulated providers, most of which are offshore providers. This translates to the state losing a lot of money. The legalization bill may have failed for the time being, but it will not be the last time it is introduced.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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