Georgia sports betting continues to be a hot topic, and a bill that could legalize the industry has advanced past the first step. House Bill 86 has advanced out of The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee by a vote of 20-6.
Lawmakers in Georgia have attempted to legalize sports betting in the past, but the bills have always stalled out. There is real optimism that HB 86 will pass, and it has garnered plenty of support from outside sources as well.
It is still unclear if a constitutional amendment will be needed before bets can be placed, but passing through both houses of the state legislature is the first step. The House of Representatives in Georgia will now discuss the bill in hopes of passing it to the Senate.
Details of Bill
According to House Bill 86, the Georgia Lottery Corp would be put in charge of sports betting in the state. There would be at least six sports betting licenses available, but that number could increase with no real limit set.
The application fee in Georgia would be just $50,000, but the license renewal fee would be one of the highest in the United States. The current proposal calls for a $900,000 renewal fee to continue offering sports betting.
There are currently no casinos in Georgia, which could mean that all sports betting will be done online. Another option would be to allow retail sports betting at professional sports stadiums.
Currently, betting can only be offered on professional sporting events, which would severely limit the amount of handle and revenue that pours in.
Support From Pro Teams
The Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance has been formed by professional teams in the state that are urging lawmakers to legalize sports betting. This group was put together in 2020 and included the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, and the Atlanta United of Major League Soccer.
These professional teams believe that legalizing sports betting would keep the integrity of their sport intact, and they would also be looking to get in on the action. More and more states are including professional teams and their arenas in potential sports betting laws, and the same could be done in Georgia.
Along with vocally supporting the measure, these teams have the economic power to influence lawmakers to keep the legislation moving forward.
Opponents Starting to Emerge
While professional sports teams support the move to legalize sports betting, there has been some opposition that has emerged as well. Opponents in Georgia are using the same basic arguments heard in other states, and it hasn’t slowed down the growth of the US sports betting industry.
The biggest argument made against this bill is that it could lead to addiction, which can become a major problem for some residents. Many residents believe that the Georgia Lottery is already too much gambling, and they don’t want to see any more options on the table.
Lobbyist groups will bring these arguments forward to lawmakers in an attempt to get them to slow down the progress of this legislation.