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Sports Betting Legislation Filed In Georgia

Current Bill Would Allow Online Betting Only Since There Are No Casinos In The State

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A Republican senator in Georgia filed legislation last Thursday that would legalize sports betting in The Peach State.

Sen. Burt Jones filed SB 403, which would allow those 21 and older the ability to wager on sporting events. It would tax sportsbooks 20 percent of its total revenue and would give the Georgia Lottery the power to regulate the industry. Since the state doesn’t have casino gaming, all of the sportsbooks would be online.

The tax revenue collected by the state from sports betting would be used, almost exclusively, to fund the state’s HOPE scholarship, a one-time $500 award that can be used for tuition at an in-state university. All but 5 percent would be used to help fund that scholarship and the rest would be used to help fund addiction treatment services.

Jones claimed that the illegal betting market is already $1.5 billion in Georgia alone and that the state should capture some of the revenue for itself.

“It’s going on currently,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And so we feel like – much like the internet sales tax – that it’s just an opportunity for us to capitalize on an entity that’s already operating.”

According to the AJC, Georgians are calling on Gov. Brian Kemp to cut spending. But with state coffers running low, 2020 could be the perfect year for gambling proponents to pass legislation as a way to increase state revenue.

Lawmakers have looked into gambling expansion since last year. Last month, at a hearing on the subject at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the speedway’s president, Ed Clark, unveiled a plan to turn the speedway into a casino resort if legislation is passed.

Casino gaming would require a constitutional amendment, which needs a two-thirds majority in both the house and senate before it goes to a statewide referendum in November. Jones believes that sports betting can be implemented without an amendment.

Historically, Georgia has been one of the most staunch anti-gambling states in the country, but as the public opinion on gambling changes, politicians are slowly following. Along with Georgia, Kentucky has also filed a sports betting bill earlier this year just a couple months after electing a pro-gambling governor.

Kansas, Ohio, Connecticut, Missouri, and Maryland are on the short list of states that have introduced sports betting legislation this year.