Calls for gambling expansion
Lawmakers in Georgia have introduced two pieces of gambling-related legislation this week. On Wednesday, Senator Brandon Beach filed Senate Bill 30 that would create the Georgia Horse Racing Commission and license as many as three racetracks in the state. Pari-mutuel betting would be allowed at these facilities.
give Georgia residents the opportunity to decide on the legality of casino resorts
On Tuesday, Representative Ron Stephens was among the sponsors of the bipartisan House Resolution 30 that seeks a public vote in 2022 to give Georgia residents the opportunity to decide on the legality of casino resorts. The majority of the tax revenues that would come from casino gaming would go toward educational programs.
The two bills add to the legislation that Representative Stephens and five others sponsored earlier this month which calls for the legalization of online sports betting.
A constitutional amendment would be necessary in order for horse racing or casino gambling to become legal in Georgia. To amend the state’s constitution, the House and the Senate both must approve the measure with a two-thirds majority. The public would then be able to decide on these gambling expansion proposals for themselves via ballot referenda. The public vote would only need a simple majority for passage.
Those in favor of legalizing sports betting believe that no such constitutional amendment would be necessary. As such, a sports betting bill would just need majority support in both the House and Senate in order for the legislation to make its way onto the governor’s desk.
A potentially big market
Those in favor of gambling expansion believe that it would lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, significant economic activity, and tax revenue. Georgia is currently the eighth-most populated state in the country, so the gambling market is potentially significant.
lottery is the only significant form of legal gambling in the state
Georgia, however, has historically been one of the most conservative states when it comes to gambling. The lottery is the only significant form of legal gambling in the state today and is massively popular. In the first half of 2020, the Georgia Lottery reported a record $1.24bn in profits despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Representative Ron Stephens has been heavily involved in pushing for gambling expansion in recent years. He was one of the six sponsors of the Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act, introduced in mid-January. It would authorize the issuance of six online sports betting licenses, though operators would not be permitted to offer lines on college sports.