Peach Bums: Georgia Sports Betting Bills Fail Once Again

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Georgia sports betting

Hopes of legal Georgia sports betting were put on ice for another year Monday after another failed push.

A parade of GA sports betting bills was working its way through the legislature as of last week, but the road forward ended Monday night. The Georgia Senate voted against multiple bills that would legalize sports betting, while the House let its legislation fizzle without a vote on the last day possible to pass the chamber of origin.

A constitutional amendment, SR 140, did not gain enough support in the Senate earlier Monday. The chamber voted against SB 57 last week. Meanwhile, HB 380 did not come up for a vote during its last shot at advancing late Monday night.

Georgia bill backed by pro teams fails

Professional sports teams in Georgia backed HB 380, which would have created 16 sports betting licenses, including nine for professional sports organizations. Throughout the session, industry sources suggested the bill had the best chance to cross the finish line. 

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce led the charge for HB 380 this year.

The House bill proposed a 25% tax on sports betting revenue. It sends money to public education and would be under the purview of the Georgia Lottery. Proponents hoped that situating wagering under the lottery would be a workaround to the potential need for a constitutional amendment.

Constitutional amendment needed in Georgia? 

Some lawmakers in the Senate believe GA sports betting is outside of the lottery games permitted in Georgia and requires a constitutional amendment. That is where Sen. Bill Cowsert’s SR 140 came into play.

“I don’t believe you can call sports betting a lottery game,” Cowsert said in explaining why he believes the issue needs a constitutional amendment. “I don’t get why it’s wrong to let the people of Georgia vote on this issue.”

Despite his calls to allow voters their choice, Cowsert failed to convince two-thirds of the Senate to vote for his resolution and it failed, 3026.

Amendment on Georgia Senate resolution

Sen. Brandon Beach proposed an amendment to SR 140 adding horse racing and casino gambling, believing voters should weigh in on all gaming issues. The amendment failed, as Cowsert called that amendment a poison pill even though it ultimately did not matter.

Last week, the Georgia Senate voted down SB 57, which would legalize sports betting and horse racing. Like HB 380, SB 57 was not a constitutional amendment.

Georgia governor supports sports betting

Gov. Brian Kemp said he would work with legislative leaders on sports betting measures. 

In previous efforts, Kemp opposed sports betting. 

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll in January, 49% of Georgians want legal sports betting. That is down from 57% support in 2020.

Georgia sports betting activity

While state lawmakers have not legalized sports betting, Georgians still try to place wagers. 

According to GeoComply data, approximately 1.4 million transactions were identified coming from Georgia from Sept. 8, 2022, to Feb. 12, 2023. The attempted bets in legal markets were blocked. 

On Super Bowl Sunday, approximately 28,000 transactions from Georgia were blocked, according to GeoComply.