US Sports Betting Legislation Updates: Arizona, Georgia, Vermont, and North Dakota

  • Arizona’s Senate Commerce Committee approved a sports betting legalization bill on Wednesday
  • A sponsor of a Georgia betting bill is ready to submit a constitutional amendment if necessary
  • Senator Dick Sears is the lead sponsor of SB 77 in Vermont that would legalize sports betting
  • North Dakota’s governor has promised not to veto a sports betting bill if it reaches his desk
sports betting on phone and laptop
Caption: Sports betting legalization measures made progress this week in Georgia, Arizona, North Dakota, and Vermont, though they still have a long way to go. [Image:]

Sports betting measures progress

Attempts to legalize sports betting in Arizona, Georgia, Vermont, and North Dakota have been making progress in recent days.

Senate Bill 1797 would allow retail and online sports betting in Arizona. The measure got approval from the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday and will now go for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The issue of whether or not sports betting legalization in Georgia would need a constitutional amendment was up for debate in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on Thursday.

Lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 77 in Vermont which would legalize sports betting, while North Dakotans might get a chance to vote on betting legalization if draft legislation makes its way through the state Senate and House.

A tense hearing in Arizona

On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate Commerce Committee voted 6-3 in favor of approving SB 1797. Online operators would partner with tribal casinos, professional sports venues, or franchises as part of this legislation.

That’s three hours of my life I can’t get back.”

The three-hour hearing before the vote was full of tension and discussion, with Chairman J.D. Mesnard saying at one stage: “That’s three hours of my life I can’t get back.”

The next step is for the bill to get a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 23. A similar bill has gotten approval in the House through the Commerce and Rules committees. The House Majority and Minority Caucuses both gave the legislation do-pass recommendations this week.

Possible constitutional amendment in Georgia

A hearing took place on Thursday in the Georgia Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee regarding Senate Bill 142. Supporters of legalizing sports betting said that $4.8bn in black market bets each year could transfer over to a regulated market.

If successful, the legislation would put the Georgia Lottery Corporation in charge of the sports betting sector. Online betting would be allowed, with an annual license fee of $900,000. A similar bill in the House differs in terms of certain specifics, such as the tax rate on operators’ revenue.

The main area of contention regarding sports betting legalization in Georgia is whether or not a constitutional amendment is necessary. Those in favor of legalization believe that no such amendment is necessary because the state constitution only expressly prevents casino gambling.

The chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee Bill Cowsert has suggested that the main sponsor of SB 142 prepare a constitutional amendment for introduction next week in case lawmakers deem it necessary. Senator Jeff Mullis, the chief sponsor of the bill, replied that such an amendment is ready to go.

Introduction of a new bill in Vermont

Sponsors of bills to legalize sports betting in Vermont last year are attempting to do the same in 2021 but with more success. Senator Dick Sears, the lead sponsor of SB 77, filed the bill last week.

This bill would legalize sports betting, with the activity under the watch of the state lottery and up to six mobile sportsbook licenses up for grabs. Two of the co-sponsors submitted a mobile-only sports betting bill last year, but it never got to a committee hearing stage.

SB 77 is now waiting for a hearing from the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. Senator Sears believes that a legal betting sector could generate about $3m in tax revenue annually.

Decision may go to North Dakotans

In North Dakota, House Concurrent Resolution 3032 (HCR 3032) received approval in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. If successful, this bill would see state residents voting on the legalization of sports betting.

Both of the legislative chambers have to give this measure the green light before it can go to a public vote in November 2022. Governor Doug Burgum said he would not veto the proposal if it made its way to his desk.

I feel the majority of North Dakotans want this.”

The next step is drawing up potential rules for regulated sports betting in North Dakota. This framework would then get submitted to the legislature. Sponsor of HCR 3032, Representative Michael Howe, is confident about the result of a potential public vote on the issue of legalizing sports betting. He said: “I feel the majority of North Dakotans want this.”

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