Georgia Moves Towards Legal Sports Betting

Georgia on map
Traditionally conservative, Georgia is now considering legalizing resort casinos and sports betting.

30-second summary:

  • Georgia has long been one of the most conservative states for gambling
  • There is a proposal for the creation of three resort casinos
  • Each casino would create 10,000 jobs and receive at least $1.2bn in investment
  • Now lawmakers are pushing for in-person sports betting in the state through House Resolution 380

History of gambling in Georgia

Georgia historically has been one of the most conservative US states when it comes to gambling. The only forms of gambling that are allowed are the state lottery and charity bingo. There are currently no casinos and no sports betting or casinos.

Those looking to gamble currently need to go elsewhere, including on to one of the two cruise ships that allow you to gamble when off the coast and in international waters. The state lottery only became legal in 1993, which shows just how resistant Georgia is to gambling.

Despite the popularity of horse racing and greyhound racing across the region during the 20th century, these activities never became legal in Georgia. Cruise ships have been the main way for people to get their gambling fix.

There were once many technically illegal video poker machines across the state. A change in the law in 2002 made them fully illegal. There was also a crackdown on internet cafés in 2011 when the authorities found that they were a hub for illegal gambling.

However, there have been some green shoots pointing towards potential gambling expansion in Georgia. There was a Senate vote in favor of developing a casino in 2012. This would see all revenues going towards helping the education system in the state. There is now a push for legal sports betting.

Potential casinos

There have been efforts to develop three resort-type casinos across Georgia, one of which would be in Atlanta. There are, of course, many hurdles to negotiate before this happens.

The other two proposed locations for these casinos are Savannah and one somewhere near the border with Florida. These casinos would have to create 10,000 jobs and have investments of at least $1.2bn before earning a license.

Therefore, the three casinos would potentially create at least 30,000 jobs, as well as bring in $3.6bn worth of development. There likely would be a state referendum on this issue. With the potential for significant job creation and revenues, it is likely that such a measure would pass.

Push for sports betting

Georgia lawmakers are now looking at a resolution that would lead to a state law amendment legalizing in-person sports betting in facilities that have a license. The measure is House Resolution 380, which would see the creation of a new framework by the Georgia General Assembly. Facilities would be able to apply for one of these licenses for sports betting.

There is no mention of online or mobile sports betting in this resolution. There also are no details as to the cost of these licenses or what sort of tax rates would be set. However, it does break down where the tax revenues will go, one of the key areas being education. This amendment is only applicable to sports betting and not any other forms of gambling.

The House Committee on Regulated Industries will now look at this resolution. It has already been read twice in the House.

Georgia’s neighbor North Carolina is also looking at introducing legal sports betting. Senator Jim Davis is pushing Senate Bill 154, which would see the tribal facilities in the state being able to offer sports betting.

Currently, they can offer slot machines, table games and raffles. This bill would allow sports betting on professional and college sporting events. There is no mention of mobile or online sports betting, so gamblers would have to place their sports bets at the tribal facilities.

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