Georgia Sports Betting Bill Makes Progress With Senate

On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate approved Resolution 579 without any alterations, signaling a significant step toward the realization of a statewide referendum on Georgia sports betting.

SR579 was spearheaded by Senator Bill Cowsert, the same legislator behind the introduction of Senate Bill 172 in 2023, which unfortunately did not succeed. However, SR579 is essentially a reincarnation of SB172, albeit with minimal alterations.

SR 579, aimed at legalizing sports betting within the state of Georgia, garnered significant support with a decisive vote of 41 in favor and 12 opposed. It mandates an identical two-thirds majority backing as previously achieved in the Senate. Should a minimum of 119 representatives out of the 180-seat state House offer their endorsement, a referendum for the ballot will be certified. This means the final say on whether or not sports betting should be legalized might now be left in the hands of residents in the Peach State.

Cowsert claims that putting challenging subjects before the voters frequently proves useful in terms of political strategy.

“I think it’s the politically appropriate thing to do when we make this type of major policy shift. This is to give voters the opportunity to speak on the issue.” he said.

SB 386 Will Likely Come Alive After a Majority Vote on SR 579

The advancement of SR 579 follows the introduction of a bill aimed at introducing online sports betting in Georgia. Senate Bill 386 was approved by the Senate on Feb. 1st and is currently pending further deliberation in the House.

SB 386 outlines provisions for the legalization of online sports betting, potentially allowing up to 16 licensed bookmakers to operate within the state. Amendments made to the bill during its passage through the Senate have led to a stipulation that its measures would come into effect on Jan. 1, 2025. This implementation is contingent upon the approval of a constitutional amendment similar to the one outlined in SR 579.

Although its legislative session ends on March 28 and gives legislators only one month to enact SB 386 and SR 579, Georgia is still among the top contenders for legalizing sports betting this year.

SR 579: Expounds on Tax Revenue

According to Cowsert’s propositions, 80% of tax proceeds from the lottery would be funneled into the educational fund, with slightly more than 15% earmarked for public awareness campaigns addressing problem gambling. The remaining 5% would be directed towards the Sports Promotion Fund, aimed at bolstering the development of sports initiatives throughout Georgia.

The finalization of the tax rate is pending, and the path Georgia will tread in this regard — whether it mirrors New York’s imposing 51% or aligns with the more modest rates of Iowa and Nevada at 6.75% — is yet to unfold.

Senator Marty Harbin, a staunch opponent of legalizing betting within the state, categorizes problem gambling as a serious addiction. Adding Georgia’s robust fiscal standing as evidence that the state doesn’t require tax revenue from sports betting.


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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