Georgia House Hits Roadblock on Sports Betting Legislation

On Monday, the Higher Education Committee of the Georgia House convened to deliberate on Senate Resolution (SR) 579, a bill introduced by Senator Bill Cowsert. The focus of the discussion was predominantly centered around a hearing regarding the resolution’s implications. Notably, Resolution 579 complements Senate Bill 386, a legislative proposal to legalize sports betting within Georgia.

Senate Bill 386 proposes to introduce a framework for the legalization of sports betting, potentially permitting up to 16 different betting applications to operate within Georgia’s jurisdiction. A tax rate of 20% is implemented, with the majority of the tax revenue specifically designated to support the state’s HOPE Scholarships program.

Sports Betting Misconstrued by Georgia Legislators

Throughout the hearing, it became evident that the committee members lacked a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of sports betting. Moreover, they appeared unfamiliar with the geographical distribution of states where sports betting is legal and the varying tax rates implemented in those jurisdictions.

The resolution directs that 80 percent of tax money goes toward improving Georgia’s educational programs. Furthermore, 15 percent of the funds are allocated to organizations that use therapy and education to combat problem gambling. The remaining 5 percent is set aside for projects to draw major sporting events to Georgian venues.

Committee Chairman Chuck Martin quickly voiced his opinion, stating that he did not support the fund that was being suggested as a means of drawing big sporting events. He expressed his conviction that such funds should not have annual funding guarantees.

Cowsert acknowledged that there were certain things he did not fully grasp. In response to inquiries concerning the distribution of financial resources for tackling problem gambling and encouraging responsible gaming, along with the practical financial requirements, he admitted the lack of relevant data or treatment program expenses.

The dearth of educational awareness surrounding the subject serves as evidence that lawmakers aren’t sufficiently immersed in the topic to drive it forward.

The Essence of SR 579 and SB 386 in Question

Cowsert estimates that legalizing sports betting may bring in around $50 million in tax income for Georgia annually, which he considers not much. Hence, some legislators question whether the bill even has to be passed since they believe the predicted tax revenue is not significant enough.

“Since we’re not going to really make any money based on what you’re saying, and then we’re going to have people gambling, and then we’ve got to take care of them, then why are we even doing this?” Rep. Rhonda Burnough said. “What’s the purpose?”

Furthermore, several legislators emphasized the state’s huge $16 billion budget surplus, stressing that no new revenue streams are urgently needed.

Still on the topic, Cowsert said that residents of Georgia are eager to gain access to legal sports betting; hence, they should be granted the opportunity to voice their opinion through a vote on the matter.


About the Author
Tebearau Egbe

Tebearau Egbe

Tebearau Egbe is a seasoned gambling writer with more than four years of experience. Armed with a Masters degree in philosophy, Egbe possesses a unique ability to dissect complex industry developments, distilling them into insightful narratives that captivate readers.

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