Promising Georgia Sports Betting Bill Moves Forward Tuesday

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Georgia sports betting

A Georgia sports betting with bipartisan backing took a promising step forward Tuesday

The Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee advanced the Georgia sports betting bill, SB 386, 8-2 Tuesday morning. The bill would legalize sports betting in the Peach State with up to 16 licenses, and now goes to the Senate Rules Committee.

Sen. Clint Dixon, the bill’s primary sponsor, said it is a bipartisan bill with nearly as many Democratic co-sponsors as Republicans. That could be a key component as the political divide has killed the issue the past few years.

“[The] bill has real legs,” an industry source on the ground said following the vote. “Bipartisan support. [Lt. Gov. Burt Jones] working hard for it.”

Georgia sports betting bill details

The bill creates 16 licenses, with eight tethered to Georgia sports organizations, seven open licenses and a license for the Georgia Lottery. Each licensee could partner with one sports betting operator.

Dixon presented an amendment that raised the tax rate on sports betting revenue from 15% to 20%. The funds would go toward funding pre-K and other educational programs through the lottery.

Dixon said because the industry would be regulated by the Georgia Lottery and the tax revenue goes to the lottery, it does not need a constitutional amendment, as some proponents believe.

License details in Georgia

The seven open licenses would be distributed through a procurement process led by the Georgia Lottery.

The eight tethered licenses would go to: 

Religious opposition speaks up

Several speakers from religious organizations spoke out against the bill, calling it “state-sponsored predatory gambling.” 

“There’s a fire blazing in Georgia from sports betting, but if you legalize it, it will be like putting gasoline on the fire, not water,” said Mike Griffin of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

Griffin also said Georgians did not vote for sports betting in 1993 when they legalized the lottery.

PrizePicks wants DFS included

Georgia-based PrizePicks lobbyist Stuart Wilkinson spoke briefly, suggesting lawmakers include daily fantasy sports regulation. PrizePicks operates a DFS pick’em product that has garnered regulatory scrutiny across the country.

“We’re hoping to tighten the legislation with that language,” Wilkinson said.

Quick-moving Georgia sports betting plan 

Dixon’s bill emerged last week, with the Republican as the primary sponsor, but also with Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler on board. There are 12 total sponsors.

Divisive legislative issues have led sports betting to get buried in the past few sessions, as the Democrats banded together following moves by the Republican majority. 

Because there are members of both parties opposed to gambling, the issue needs bipartisan support to gather enough votes.