The bill, SB 386, takes an unconventional route as it sidesteps the need for a constitutional amendment.
Sponsored by a bipartisan group of 12 senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties, the bill has been referred to the Economic Development and Tourism Committee of the chamber for consideration.
Unlike previous proposals, this legislation enjoys broad support from Georgia professional sports teams and prominent political figures, including Governor Brian Kemp and Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones.
The Lottery Game of GA Online Sports Betting
Georgia legislators have grappled with legalizing sports betting for the past few years, facing challenges related to debates on constitutionality and clashes over unrelated legislative matters.
SB 386 introduces an alternative approach to avoid reigniting discussions about amending Georgia’s constitution. It aims to legalize the “lottery game of online sports betting” under the purview of the already-established Georgia Lottery Corp.
An excerpt of the bill reads:
“Sports betting shall be overseen and regulated, and may also be offered, by the Georgia Lottery Corporation in a manner that provides continuing entertainment to the public, maximizes revenues, protects consumers, and ensures that sports betting is operated in this state with integrity and dignity and free of political influence.”
SB 386 Details
According to the bill, the Georgia Lottery Corporation will assume the role of regulator, overseeing the industry. The bill makes provision for the issuance of 16 sports betting licenses for a five-year period, a move that opens the door for a diverse array of operators to participate in the regulated market.
Licensed operators engaging in online sports betting will be subject to a 15% tax on adjusted gross sports betting revenue. The financial commitment extends to licensing fees, set at $1 million annually for license renewal. Interested operators will be required to pay an initial application fee of $100,000.
SB 386 recognizes the popularity of collegiate sports and inclusively allows bets on college sports, broadening the spectrum of permissible wagering options for consumers.
GA License Allocation Breakdown
Under this comprehensive legislation, five licenses will be reserved exclusively for Georgia’s professional sports teams.
Another distinctive provision within the bill designates a solitary license to a professional sports governing body with a noteworthy history. Specifically, the license is reserved for a body orchestrating sanctioned annual golf tournaments within the state for at least three decades. This deliberate inclusion recognizes and honors the longstanding contribution of such bodies to the sporting heritage of Georgia.
Furthermore, the legislation allocates one license to the owner of a facility that has hosted annual invitational golf tournaments for professional and amateur golfers for at least 30 years.
One license is to be assigned to the owner of a facility within the state that hosts automobile races on a national association for stock car racing national tour. Alternatively, this license may be granted to a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of the facility’s owner, provided it operates as a nonprofit organization.
Another crucial player in this allocation strategy is the Georgia Lottery Corporation, securing one dedicated license. Recognizing the significance of transparency and public involvement, the bill will subject the remaining seven licenses to a public procurement process.
Implications for the Future
As the Georgia legislature navigates the path toward legalizing sports betting, SB 386 introduces a fresh perspective. By avoiding the constitutional amendment route, this bill offers lawmakers an unconventional but potentially more expedient way to bring sports betting to the Peach State.
The bill’s unique approach could set a precedent for other states grappling with similar legislative challenges, reshaping the landscape of sports betting legalization across the nation.