History Behind Proposed Sports Betting Bill in Georgia
The states in the deep south have been behind the northern portion of the country when it comes to the legalization of sports betting. States were given the option of enacting sports betting within their individual borders in 2018. The possibilities were endless for the states, and many legislatures took this opportunity because of the revenue that sports betting produces.
Prior to 2018, sports betting wasn’t allowed in most areas of the United States. This was due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that was passed in 1992. It’s no secret that there’s a big market for sports betting in the United States. Some southern states are coming around to the idea of sports betting, and Georgia is included in that group.
Georgia is a swing state, so the proportion of Republicans and Democrats is changing every term. This makes it difficult to pass conflicting legislation with ease. Back in the fall of 2019, the state government began a serious discussion of what sports betting could financially do for the state. There was still opposition towards sports betting, but money was a factor that brought representatives from both parties to the table to discuss an implementation plan.
The COVID pandemic helped sports betting legislation in Georgia. The government is looking for a way to fill the deficit that was caused from supporting the virus and sports betting could be the answer.
What Sports Betting Bill in Georgia Says
Senator Burt Jones has been the mastermind behind Georgia’s sports betting legislation. His thoughts are encompassed under House Bill 93 which discusses sports betting and traffic tickets. The bill includes both mobile wagering and retail sportsbooks within the state. If a sportsbook company wants to enter the state, they must file a $50,000 application fee. If a company is approved, they must pay an annual fee of $900,000.
In addition to the $900,000, sportsbooks will still have to pay a hefty 20% tax on their total gaming revenue. These are extremely strict regulations relative to other states where sports betting is legal in the country.
With all these mandatory payments for sportsbooks, Georgia is expecting to make a massive profit. The main fund that Georgia will delegate sports betting tax revenue towards is the HOPE Scholarship Fund and pre-kindergarten programs. The HOPE Scholarship Fund gives college scholarships to eligible high school seniors that want to go to state institutions. This is a great program in the state of Georgia, but it will have to be cut in the future because of the deficit caused from the COVID pandemic.
The state doesn’t want to remove this program. Therefore, HB 93 has garnered momentum, so legislators don’t have to make the difficult choice of cutting educational opportunities.
What’s Holding Sports Betting Back in Georgia?
Initially, sports betting was held back due to the political disputes in the Georgia legislature. Republicans have inherently different values than Democrats, and Georgia is a truly split government. Not all Republicans were against sports betting, but there were political disputes about the framework of the form of gambling in Georgia.
Georgia Democrats performed very well in the federal elections, but Republicans didn’t lose their power in the local elections. The local elections were critical for the Democrats to easily enact sports betting. Georgia Democrats hoped to take control, but they didn’t gain enough power to easily pass sports betting.
The Republicans still have a massive majority in the Georgia House and Senate. The bulk of Republican politicians oppose sports betting, so even though the bill is on the Senate floor, it’s not likely to pass anytime soon.
Even if Republicans do come around in the House and Senate, sports betting still faces another barrier. The Governor in the state, Brian Kemp, is a Republican that has openly opposed sports betting. He has the ability to veto any sports betting law that could possibly pass in the state congress.
State law also hurts the chance of sports betting. The quickest way to ratify sports betting would be by giving the state lottery a monopoly over the form of gambling. State law can be interpreted in this way, but it could deter bettors from wagering in Georgia.
Sports Teams to Bet on in Georgia
The state of Georgia has five professional sports franchises in the NFL, MLB, NBA, MLS, and WNBA. The Atlanta Falcons play in the NFC South Division of the NFL. The Falcons terminated former head coach Dan Quinn in 2020. The team’s current interim head coach is Raheem Morris. The Falcons have won two NFC Championships in 1998 and 2016.
The Atlanta Hawks play in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The team is coached by Lloyd Pierce and won their most recent division title in 2015. The Atlanta Braves play in the NL East in the MLB. The Braves are loaded with some of the best young stars in the game of baseball. The team is managed by Brian Snitker and they won their last World Series title in 1995.
The MLS is very popular in Atlanta and this is reflected amongst the support for the Atlanta United FC. The United play in the Eastern Conference of the MLS. They were founded six years ago and are owned by Arthur Blank. Blank owns the Falcons as well. The Atlanta Dream play in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference. The Dream are coached by Nicki Collen and have won three conference titles in franchise history. However, the team still hasn’t won a WNBA Championship.
Georgia Sports Betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Georgia?
Sports betting in Georgia is making progress, but it’s not yet legalized in the state. There are numerous reasons for this, but political contention has been on full display in the state congress. Republicans and Democrats have inherently different values when it comes to sports betting.
What’s the legal betting age in Georgia?
The legal betting age in the state of Georgia is 21 years of age.
Will you be able to bet on collegiate sports in Georgia?
There are proponents of collegiate betting, but nothing is concrete. It’s still too early to determine if legal sports betting will allow for college sports betting.
Will there be retail and mobile betting allowed in Georgia?
If the current bill or a similar bill passes, Georgia sports betting will be available on a mobile device or at a landlocked sportsbook. The landlocked sportsbooks will be located in the state’s casinos.
What will sports betting taxes support?
Sports betting revenue in the state will go towards educational opportunities for Georgia youth. Specifically, the money will be for pre-kindergarten programs and college scholarship opportunities for high school seniors.
How many professional sports teams can you bet on in Georgia?
There are five professional sports teams in the state of Georgia across five leagues.