Georgia Lawmakers Trying Statute Route to Legalize Online Sports Betting

  • The statute route to legalize betting only needs a simple majority vote in both chambers
  • Ex-Chief Justice Harold Melton said sports betting could be classified as a lottery
  • The statute route omits casino gambling, which polled Georgians prefer to betting
Georgia flag
Georgia legislators are working towards legalizing online sports betting through statute rather than a constitutional amendment. [Image:]

Lawmakers get innovative

After years of seeing bills for legal sports betting die on the Georgia House or Senate floor, lawmakers are trying something little different this time around. Their new tactic involves zero changes to the state’s constitution.

On Sunday, the Albany Herald revealed that Georgia lawmakers from both the House and Senate are attempting to legalize online wagering by statute rather than constitutional change.

would need only a simple majority vote”

Legislative supporters of the measure hope that adding sports betting to Georgia law through statute “would need only a simple majority vote” in House and Senate, according to the Herald.

The lottery angle

In January 2022, gambling backers in the Senate put forward arguments for a constitutional amendment for sports betting. This, however, would require a two-third majority vote to pass both chambers before the public vote. So far, this avenue has not proven a successful one for betting advocates.

The new statute strategy from Georgia lawmakers focuses on the classification of sports betting. Ex-Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton asserts that a constitutional amendment is unnecessary for legalization when lawmakers could classify betting as a form of lottery.

Outlining his reasoning, Melton said bettors “may exercise some skill” in picking winning teams or players, but the outcome is “entirely dependent on the ultimate performance of the teams or player.”

While Georgia is one of the US’s most conservative states for gambling, a 1992 constitutional amendment introduced legal gambling in the form of charitable raffles and a state lottery.

Casinos left out

Naturally, with Georgia being a conservative state, some have warned that going with the statute route could invite lawsuits and disputes.

The biggest elephant in the room is, however, casino gambling, which is still illegal in the state of Georgia. The statute strategy would leave out the possibility of legalizing casino gaming at the same time as sports betting.

Notably, a recent poll revealed Georgians were more in favor of a having a casino vertical than a sports betting one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *