Last updated: May 20, 2022
The brief push to legalize sports betting in Georgia in 2022 came to an end April 4 when the Georgia Legislature ended its session.
Rep. Ron Stephens tried to amend two pieces of gambling legislature passed by the Senate last year in SR 135 and SB 142. SR 135 would have put gambling on the November ballot for Georgians to approve while SB 142 legalized sports betting.
House Speaker David Ralston suggested allowing Georgians to vote on whether they want casino gaming in the state and figure out what it looks like after if the answer is yes. There was an appetite to pass a gambling bill in 2022 that has not been there before, he added.
What’s happening in Georgia sports betting right now
- May 16, 2022 – Chances of North Carolina legalizing mobile sports betting look positive as House leadership supports SB 688, which already passed the Senate last year, sources told LSR.
- May 12, 2022 – Residents living in northern Georgia could have another legal mobile betting option open if North Carolina passes legislation this year. A lobbyist representing sports organizations in the state said the votes are there to legalize, according to PlayUSA.
- April 28, 2022 – The Atlanta Falcons drafted the first wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft in Drake London, which was a big need after Calvin Ridley was suspended for at least the 2022 season for gambling on football.
- April 19, 2022 – Atlanta Hawks fans in Georgia will have to travel out of state this year, and likely next year and potentially longer, to place their legal bets on the NBA Playoffs this year.
- April 4, 2022 – The 2022 Georgia Legislature ended without passing any gambling bills. SR 135 was stripped and replaced while SB 142 never made it to the House floor.
- March 28, 2022 – Rep. Ron Stephens amended two gambling bills passed by the Senate in 2021, both of which were approved in a House committee. One bill proposes a voter referendum to allow all types of gambling while the other is enabling legislation for mobile and retail sports betting.
- March 18, 2022 – A proposal to let voters decide whether horse betting should be legal in the state did not advance from the Senate before the crossover deadline.
- February 18, 2022 – A Georgia Senate committee held a hearing on multiple horse racing bills but has yet to consider anything with sports betting so far in the 2022 session.
- May 20, 2021 — DFS and sportsbook giant FanDuel is planning to open a product development and IT hub in Atlanta. The plan comes with an investment of $15 million into the Georgia economy, along with the creation of 900 jobs over the next five years.
- March 31, 2021 — Unfortunately, sports bettors in Georgia will have to wait as Georgia’s legislative session ends without passage of the two sports betting bills in the House. The political environment has become heated in the Peach State and the NAACP voiced its opposition to sports betting legislation.
- March 8, 2021 — The Senate passes two pieces of sports betting legislation and sends them over to the House. The first bill, SR 135, puts the question of sports betting in front of voters as a referendum question. The second bill is the actual bill to legalize sports betting in Georgia, SB142. Both bills head to a House of Representatives, where its own bill, HB86, has been stalled over separate partisan disagreements about voting rights.
- Feb. 10, 2021 — Although a sports betting bill has passed through its first committee in the House, lawmakers in the Georgia Senate decide not to wait and file their own sports betting bill, SB142. The upper chamber’s bill is quite similar to HB86, but differs in a couple of key areas. Notably, SB142 allows for betting on collegiate events that do not involve Georgia colleges, where HB86 permits no collegiate betting whatsoever.
Is sports betting legal in Georgia?
No. Right now, there are no legal options for sports betting in Georgia. However, one major online sportsbook, FanDuel, clearly sees potential in Georgia’s future. The company invested more than $15 million to place an IT center in Atlanta in May 2021. Given that sports betting bills passed through the Georgia Legislature in 2021, it’s not a reach to believe that betting on sports is in the near future for Georgians.
The status of Georgia sports betting
Legislative efforts to legalize sports betting found more success in 2021 than any in recent history. A constitutional amendment to legalize GA sports betting and an enabling bill to assign the new industry to the lottery commission’s oversight both passed the Georgia Senate. Were it not for an unrelated breakdown in the House over voting rights, the bills had a chance of moving to the governor’s desk.
As it stands, legal sports betting in Georgia has strong support from a coalition of Atlanta professional sports teams. At a late-session hearing, Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin called sports betting an important part of teams’ efforts to engage with fans during a difficult time in professional sports.
Still, gambling could be a tough sell in Georgia. It is one of the few states that does not have commercial or tribal casinos. An effort to put the question of allowing casino gambling in front of voters in 2020 also failed.
When will online sports betting launch in Georgia?
Online sports betting will launch in Georgia no earlier than the first half of 2023 if approved. Since legislation hit a wall in 2021, pro-sports betting lawmakers will have to circle back to the issue. The earliest opportunity to revisit sports betting will be the 2022 regular legislative session. It is possible that legislators could have another bite at the apple with the same or a similar bill.
A wrinkle is that voters must also approve the measures on the November 2022 ballot to make the amendment law. Even under the assumption that sports betting would receive the go-ahead, it would likely be several months before the Georgia Lottery could promulgate regulations for the new industry, issue licenses, and allow operators to launch.
Sportsbook apps that could launch in Georgia
With so much uncertainty, it’s difficult to know which sportsbooks will come to Georgia if sports betting becomes a legal reality. The failed 2021 bill allowed for the possibility of at least six online operators. Without any gambling venues in the state, these apps would be the only way to bet on sports legally. This exclusivity and Georgia’s population make it an attractive target for most sportsbook companies. However, here are some of the likely candidates to debut when online sports betting arrives in the Peach State:
- FanDuel — Its IT hub investment and presence in Georgia for DFS play makes FanDuel near-certain to open its sports betting doors in the state when the opportunity comes. It also serves sports bettors in nearby Tennessee, which is the closest sports betting-friendly location to Georgia’s largest city, Atlanta.
- DraftKings — DraftKings also offers its daily fantasy sports play to Georgia residents and is often among the vanguard of sportsbook apps to launch in new states. Like FanDuel, DK is also available in neighboring Tennessee and is quick to launch in states that offer competitive licensing.
- BetMGM — BetMGM Sportsbook is usually among early adopters in new markets, which makes it an odds-on favor to show up in Georgia as soon as possible. BetMGM is part of the market to the north in Tennessee, too, so it’s likely that the book already has some cachet and brand recognition within areas of Georgia.
- Caesars — Caesars Sportsbook is one of the largest sportsbook operations in the country and has significant resources to pursue opportunities in new areas. It is also part of the group of sportsbooks to operate in Tennessee. Its properties in North Carolina are the nearest full-service casinos to those living in northern Georgia, including the residents of Atlanta, Athens, and Augusta.
- BetRivers — BetRivers Sportsbook might not be a terribly familiar name for many in the South, but the app has battled successfully to prove itself in other areas of the country. There’s little reason to assume that Rush Street Interactive would pass on Georgia if available.
- PointsBet — PointsBet is an Australian sportsbook that is one of the more successful foreign sportsbook companies to come to the US as sports betting has spread. The company is often at the forefront of launches in new states.
Recent Georgia sports betting news
GA sports betting bills
Despite Georgia’s past resistance to gambling, lawmakers in the Peach State have been diligently working to pass legislation for sports betting since 2020. In the years since, there have been a number of different bills that have sought in various ways to authorize sports betting for Georgia’s citizens. The list below is a running list of those efforts:
As more bills proceed through the Georgia Legislature, we will update this list.
Legal sports betting options in Georgia
There are no legal betting options in Georgia.
Any websites that will take your bet in Georgia are illegal offshore websites that don’t hold a license from any US jurisdiction. Without state regulation, these offshore betting apps can’t be counted on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with people’s money.
The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the US is with a licensed operator.
Most popular sports to bet on in Georgia
Georgia has three major professional sports teams in Atlanta and a popular soccer club, but a college team reigns supreme in the state.
NCAA betting in Georgia
Georgia is in the middle of SEC country, where NCAA football is king.
The Georgia Bulldogs haven’t won a national title since 1980, but their 56 bowl victories are tied for the second-most of any college football program. They’ve won the SEC title 13 times and made it to the college football playoffs in 2017. Yet, their rival Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have actually won more national titles, four to two, and more recently tasted victory in 1990.
MLB betting in Georgia
The Atlanta Braves have had more success than the other Atlanta professional teams combined. Founded in 1871 as Boston Red Stockings, the Braves are one of the National League‘s two remaining charter franchises. Moving to Atlanta in 1966, the Braves are the only Major League Baseball team to win the World Series for three cities, winning in Atlanta in 1995.
The Braves are still exciting fans today, winning the NL East division in 2018 and 2019. Decades of having their games broadcast nationally on the cable network TBS gave the Braves a nationwide fanbase.
NFL betting in Georgia
In 2016, the Atlanta Falcons nearly brought the city its first Super Bowl championship since joining the NFL in 1966. The high-flying birds lost to the New England Patriots in the first-ever Super Bowl to go to overtime. Although the Falcons missed the playoffs the past two seasons, they still have the passing duo that led the Super Bowl run in QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones.
NBA betting in Georgia
The Hawks haven’t won an NBA championship since moving to city in 1968, but they’ve had their fair share of success, making the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons from 2008 to 2017. The Hawks have an exciting young player to build around in PG Trae Young.
MLS betting in Georgia
Atlanta United is the city’s newest team, joining MLS as an expansion team in 2017. But they immediately captured the love of Georgians, setting attendance records and winning the city’s first sports championship in 25 years with the MLS Cup in 2018 and adding the Campeones Cup.
Georgia and daily fantasy sports
While daily fantasy sports are unregulated in Georgia, DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo Fantasy operate in the state.
Things have been quiet since, but no news appears to be good news as the state’s current leadership seems fine with allowing fantasy sports to continue.
Is horse racing legal in Georgia?
Horse racing is legal in Georgia, but there are no permanent racetracks and pari-mutuel wagering is illegal.
The Georgia Steeplechase and Hawkinsville Harness Festival are two annual horse racing events in the state.
Several legislative attempts were made in recent years to add horse betting. The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition seeks to bring racetracks and pari-mutuel wagering to the Peach State. But they haven’t made it far. A 2020 bill that would have put the question of horse racing on the November ballot failed.
The most recent attempt to legalize pari-mutuel betting in Georgia occurred in February 2021. SR131 proposed an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would have allowed wagering to proceed at “licensed racetracks and betting facilities.” However, the proposal failed to progress beyond its initial reading and committee referral.
Georgia sports betting timeline
Rep. Ron Stephens redoubled his efforts in the new session and unveiled HB86 as a follow-up to last year’s bill. The bill proposed online-only sports betting, remote registration, and up to six licensees. However, the new bill did not allow for collegiate wagering.
Stephens’ colleagues in the Senate did not wait for HB86 to navigate through the House committee system and offered their own bill, SB142. The bill was similar to the House version, but notably diverged on the subject of betting on college games. SB142 and its companion, SR135 (which puts the question on a referendum for voters), passed through the Senate in early March 2021.
The end of the legislative session on March 31, loomed over the bills’ proceeding through the House. Because of disagreements about a controversial voting rights bill signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp, sports betting was drawn into a political battle along partisan lines. The arguments were so contentious that, at one point, the NAACP publicly announced its opposition to sports betting in Georgia. Thus, despite their passage through the Georgia Senate, both measures did not progress past committee in the House of Representatives.
Georgia got off to a late start in making an effort to legalize sports wagering. Lawmakers didn’t take an interest in GA sports betting until neighboring Tennessee legalized the activity.
That bill died in committee, but facing an unforeseen budget crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers revived the proposal late in the session by amending the language on to a bill that was still alive.
Rep. Stephens followed suit by putting his H 378 into an unneeded Senate bill. His legislation would have put the question of legalizing sports betting, casinos and horse racing on the ballot to give voters the opportunity to amend the state constitution to allow the activities. But constitutional amendments require a difficult-to-reach two-thirds vote in the legislature.
Stephens believes that the gambling expansions would be widely approved by voters if only they could get on the ballot. Unfortunately, none of these efforts proved unsuccessful, as the 2020 legislative session ended without any forward motion on the amendments.
Georgia sports betting FAQ
Who would oversee sports betting in Georgia?
The Georgia Lottery. As is the case in states without many avenues of legal gambling, the lottery commission in the Peach State serves as the de facto gaming commission. SB142 specifically designated the Georgia Lottery as the oversight agency for the new industry.
What is the legal gambling age in Georgia?
For the limited gambling in Georgia, the legal gambling age is 18. However, sports betting in Georgia will certainly require players to be 21, as all of the most successful attempts to legalize so far have included language to that effect.
Will mobile GA sports betting be allowed?
Yes, with no casinos in the state, Georgia has been exploring the Tennessee model of having sport betting only take place online.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. There are currently no sportsbook operators licensed at the federal level. All US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level. Any website suggesting it allows betting from anywhere in the US is a website that operators offshore. It’s not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens. They offer no protection to those who bet on them.