A Senate version of a bill that would legalize sports betting in Georgia offers a bit more than the House version.
SB 142, sponsored by eight senators, is quite similar in concept to HB 86, sponsored by six representatives. Both bills would allow GA sports betting regulated through the Georgia Lottery with at least six mobile sportsbooks and no license cap.
Apart from that, however, some of the finer details set the two bills apart.
The House version has at least some support, as it was voted out of committee last week and is backed by the state’s four professional teams. The Senate version, filed Tuesday, does not have a hearing scheduled yet.
Georgia sports betting bill differences
Let’s break down some of the biggest differences:
- College betting: Under the House version, there would be no betting on college sports at all. The Senate version only bans betting on Georgia colleges, though. Both bills would still see bettors wagering with offshore sportsbooks to bet on the Georgia Bulldogs and other in-state favorites. But banning all college betting in a Southeastern Conference state could significantly limit the market.
- Tax rate: The House version taxes sports betting revenue at 14%, down from 16% originally. The Senate calls for a 10% tax. The $50,000 application fee and $900,000 annual renewal fee are the same in both bills.
- Adjusted gross income definition: It’s unclear how much the two bills actually differ here. The Senate bill excludes free bets, promo credits and the 0.25% federal excise tax from the definition. Both bills include “cash equivalent of any merchandise or thing of value awarded as a prize” in their definitions, which could easily include those promo credits and free bets as well. LSR requested clarification from lead House sponsor Rep. Ron Stephens.
One similarity that no sportsbook operator will like is required official league data if requested by a US-based sports league.
Retail partnerships allowed in Senate version
Both bills strictly legalize online sports betting, but the Senate version allows for certain retail partnerships.
Any master license holder of coin-operated amusement games, like pinball and Skee-Ball, could partner with an online sportsbook to offer betting kiosks:
The corporation may authorize through rules and regulations for master license holders and location owners or location operators to offer for sporting events approved by the corporation the lottery game of sports wagering as an online sports wagering platform through a system similar to the bona fide coin operated amusement machines that are licensed under this chapter to operate in retail locations and that are connected to an accounting terminal linked by a communications network approved by the corporation.
The final terms and details of those agreements are up to the Lottery to decide.
Senate version bans mandatory hold for GA sports betting
With a single sentence in the Senate bill, shots were metaphorically fired across state lines into Tennessee:
The corporation shall not have the power to prescribe a licensee’s maximum or minimum payout of hold percentage.
This clearly is in response to the questionable law implemented in the TN sports betting law. Tennessee’s sportsbooks have to hold at least 10% on an annual basis, which is double the industry expected hold of 5%.
The House version does not suggest a mandatory hold. The Senate’s inclusion, though, suggests it recognizes a flawed component of their neighbor to the north’s betting laws. Tennessee, which does not cap operator licenses, had an underwhelming initial launch with just four sportsbooks, though those books have taken record handle for a new state launch.