Update: The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee in Georgia voted in favor of House Bill 86 on February 2. The legislation will advance to the full House for approval.
Details of the bill
Georgia lawmakers have introduced House Bill 86, seeking to legalize online sports betting in the state. The bill would amend the Official Code of Georgia, allowing for the regulation of online sports betting. The Georgia Lottery Corporation would be in charge of oversight.
Six lawmakers are sponsoring the “Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act,” which would make at least six licenses available to operators. Applicants would pay a non-refundable $50,000 application fee and then $900,000 each year.
does not allow for betting on college sporting events
The bill proposes a 16% tax rate on adjusted gross sports betting income, payable each month. Georgia’s HOPE educational scholarship initiative and pre-school programs would benefit from the resulting tax revenue. While the bill looks to legalize betting on professional sports – including esports – it does not allow for betting on college sporting events. The legal age for online sports betting would be 21 years old.
According to one of the bill’s sponsors, State Representative Ron Stephens, the legislation would not require a constitutional amendment as it would go through the state lottery and fund educational programs.
Previous failed attempts
Previous attempts to push through legal sports betting in Georgia have not been successful. The state has a record of being conservative when it comes to gambling expansion, with the main form of legal gambling currently available being the state lottery. It is very popular; lottery profits hit $1.24bn in the first half of 2020, an all-time high for Georgia.
Last year, the House did approve a sports betting proposal, but it stalled in the Senate. This legislation would have amended the existing House Bill 903 to allow for sports betting with a 20% tax rate. At the time, proponents of the bill estimated that legal online sports betting could benefit the state to the tune of $60m in tax revenue each year.
Pro sports teams in favor
Georgia’s professional sports teams are in favor of online sports betting legalization. The presidents of the Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Atlanta Braves (MLB), and Atlanta United (MLS) joined together in 2019 to form the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance.
help reduce black market gambling in the state
These teams believe that regulated online sports betting would significantly help reduce black market gambling in the state, as well as improve engagement among sports fans. The teams are not seeking a revenue share and they online want online betting, not retail sportsbooks.