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Georgia Edges toward Legalizing Sports Betting in Legislative Push

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Sports betting is increasingly becoming the focus of efforts to pass gambling legalization in Georgia, in place of casinos and horse racing.

Support for Sports Betting in Georgia

Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, a passionate advocate for sports betting, sees it as a less challenging task to legalize compared to other forms of gambling. Jones, who proposed a sports betting bill in 2020, believes that sports betting is more popular among Georgians than live online casinos and horse racing betting.

A key moment in the recent legislative session was the opinion of former Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton that sports betting could be legalized without altering the state constitution, treating it similarly to a lottery game under the oversight of the Georgia Lottery Corp., established in the constitution since 1992.

However, lawmakers are divided over the most suitable method for legalization. Some propose a constitutional amendment with a public vote, while others suggest embedding sports betting directly in the constitution. Neither approach succeeded, delaying any resolution until 2024.

Related: Sports Betting Bill Rejected in Georgia Again

Future Prospects for Sports Betting in Georgia

Lieutenant Governor Jones is optimistic about the Senate advocating for sports betting legalization in the next legislative session. The Metro Atlanta Chamber, in alliance with Atlanta's professional sports teams, strongly supports this initiative, viewing it as a means to boost fan engagement.

Marshall Guest from the Metro Atlanta Chamber has highlighted the economic advantages, referencing 38 states that have legalized sports betting following a 2018 US Supreme Court decision.

State Representative Ron Stephens has called for a constitutional amendment, emphasizing the tax benefits. This approach, though more demanding, is seen as more favorable, particularly for funding Georgia’s HOPE Scholarships and Pre-Kindergarten programs.

Great Anticipation for the Next Legislative Session

While some have suggested combining sports betting, casinos, and horse racing into a single amendment, there are those, such as Stephens, who believe that this is too ambitious. However, there is no denying that Georgia’s next legislative session holds great promise for supporters of sports betting.

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