Time Is Tight For Georgia Sports Betting Bill But Hope Remains

Written By Matthew Waters on March 31, 2022
Georgia sports betting

Sports betting in Georgia has a pulse, but there is not much time left to pass the bill before the session ends next Monday.

Rep. Ron Stephens amended two bills passed by the Senate in 2021, SR 135 and SB 142, to include language for online Georgia sportsbooks and other gambling. SB 142 would legalize sports betting while SR 135 would ask Georgians to vote in November on whether sports betting and other types of gambling including casinos should be approved.

The process took about two hours and saw resistance but both pieces of legislation passed out of Stephens’s Economic Development & Tourism Committee Monday afternoon.

Georgia sports betting details

Stephens and lobbyist Bruce Bowers did not break down who contributed to crafting the bill but both mentioned many cooks in the kitchen. Multiple pro sports teams in Atlanta have been in favor of legalized sports betting since 2019. Efforts to legalize betting last year were postponed by unrelated issues surrounding voter rights.

The state’s nine professional teams and sports organizations can be licensed for mobile betting. There would be 18 total mobile sportsbook licenses, meaning the nine other licenses will be untethered.

There would also be sports betting allowed on kiosks through the Georgia Lottery.

Taxes and fees

It will cost $1 million a year to have a mobile sports betting license in Georgia. That does not include the $100,000 application fee.

There will be five to 10 suppliers picked for the Lottery’s sports betting product without limit on retailer licenses. Only fixed-odds betting, moneyline and spread bets, over/under bets and parlay bets will be allowed through the Lottery. It will cost $100,000 a year for a lottery supplier license.

Mobile sports betting revenue will be taxed at 20% of adjusted gross income, which is revenue minus winnings and the federal excise tax, which is 0.25% of handle. Sports betting revenue from the lottery would be taxed at 20% of gross revenue.

Not a quick Georgia sports betting launch

It will take a bit of time for sports betting to launch if the bill is passed.

The bill creates the Georgia Gaming Corporation and the Georgia Sports Betting Commission to oversee and regulate the industry. The seven members of the commission must be appointed by Jan. 3, 2023 while a CEO of the Georgia Gaming Corporation must be selected by April 1.

No licenses can be awarded by the commission until Sept. 1, meaning sportsbooks would launch right before regular-season NFL betting kicks off.

Much different from Senate proposal

Should both SR 135 and SB 142 make it through the House, there is no guarantee they will be approved as amended in the Senate.

SR 135 originally only allowed for sports betting and did not include casinos and horse racing. The expansion of casinos in Georgia has been a heavily debated topic for years.

SB 142, meanwhile, included much lower license and application fees at $100,000 and $10,000, respectively. It also taxed sports betting at 16%, originally up from 10%.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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