Legal Sports Betting Clears First Hurdle in Georgia General Assembly

by Nyamekye Daniel


Legislation legalizing sports betting in Georgia has cleared the Georgia Senate and will be considered in the House.

Senate Resolution 135 would amend Georgia’s Constitution to legalize sports betting as a game played through the state lottery, which already is a legal form of gambling in the state.

The resolution cleared the Senate, 41-10, last week. If SR 135 passes the House, Georgians would vote on the constitutional amendment in the 2022 general election. Sports betting would then be legal by January 2023.

Senate Bill 142 would regulate how sports betting would be administered. It also cleared the Senate last week, 34-17.

More than 2 million Georgians now bet illegally, spending $4 billion a year on sports betting, said Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, who sponsored both pieces of legislation.

“You know where all that money goes. It goes to the bookies or the so-called winners, or those that may owe money, or may not, but here we can regulate,” Mullis said.

Under SB 142, Georgians age 21 and older could bet on a variety of professional sports games and some college games through six vendors licensed by the Georgia Lottery Corp. Vendors would be subject to a $10,000 application fee, an annual $100,000 license fee and a 16% tax on their profits. State officials said that it could generate millions of dollars of revenue for the state.

The state’s budget office and auditor estimated the 16% tax rate could increase revenue for the state by $38 million in the first fiscal year. Proceeds from the games would be used for rural health, needs-based scholarships and broadband internet access.

Mullis, however, believes the bill may change to align with a similar House proposal, House Bill 86, when the chamber gets a hold of it. The House proposal expanded licensing to 16 vendors in five years.

Some lawmakers fear legalizing sports betting could lead to an increase in gambling addiction. SB 142 would require the Georgia Lottery to coordinate gambling addiction services with local organizations to limit potential issues.

“I know there are many of us that have qualms about this. Where does this lead the state of Georgia? Is it good for our culture? Is it good for our citizens? Is it good for the vulnerable population that might get themselves into financial trouble through this? ” said Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, a co-sponsor of SR 135. “For those that share those concerns, this is a way to make sure we’re not imposing our will on the state, without letting them be heard and decide by putting it on the ballot.”

Both bills are scheduled to be reviewed by the House Committee on Economic Development & Tourism.

– – –

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for four years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel’s work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times. Daniel is a staff reporter for The Center Square.









Related posts