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Georgia House Starts Examination of the Senate’s Sports Betting Bill

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The statewide mobile sports betting bill SB386 has had its first hearing in the Georgia House after more than five weeks since the Senate passed it. The proposed legislation includes provisions for 16 online sports betting licenses, with eight tied to professional sports franchises or organizations within the state. Licenses would be open to all major professional sports teams in Georgia, along with the Augusta Country Club, PGA Tour, and Atlanta Motor Speedway/NASCAR.

Additionally, seven licenses would be available for third-party operators and one license would be given to the Georgia Lottery, which would also serve as the gambling regulation authority. Deviating slightly from earlier proposals, the bill includes a Senate amendment that entrusts the final decision to the voters.

While tendering the proposal to committee members, Senator Clint Dixon, the sponsor of the bill stated that betting on college sports would be permitted, the tax rate would be fixed at 20%, and accounts could exclusively be funded with cash.

The proposed license application fee stands at $100,000, accompanied by a $1 million annual renewal fee. However, the Tuesday hearing ended with no vote in the House Higher Education Committee. While additional discussions might take place later this week, the committee chairman emphasized that a vote is not imminent.

Related: Georgia Edges toward Legalizing Sports Betting in Legislative Push

DFS Reps Want Fantasy Sports Included

Some delegates have expressed interest in amending the sports betting bill to cover daily fantasy sports (DFS).

Representatives from daily fantasy companies stated that they would like to include their contests in the bill. According to PrizePicks Director of Government Affairs Stuart Wilkinson, legalizing fantasy sports betting could generate additional tax revenue beyond the projected earnings from sports betting. However, delegates from faith-based and anti-gambling groups testified in opposition to the bill.

Paul Smith from Citizen Impact asserted that it is bad for Georgia and its families. Dr. John Kent, who stated that he was testifying for his 13 grandchildren, portrayed his disapproval of the bill with slogans like "Lose your tots to online slots" and "Click your mouse, lose your house."

Overall, those in opposition are concerned that the societal consequences of legal wagering will surpass the financial benefits for the state.

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