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Legal Sports Betting Comes One Step Closer in the State of Georgia

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In February, the Senate in Georgia approved a constitutional amendment that gives local voters the right to decide on legalizing sports betting. The measure is now being considered by the House of Representatives where it has received its first hearing.

The debate over sports betting in Georgia has been ongoing for several years. Some have argued that legalizing it does not require a constitutional change; however, the General Assembly believes that a statewide referendum is necessary.

Proposal to Create Gaming Commission

The amendment would see the creation of a gaming commission that would be under the control of the Georgia Lottery Corporation. Alongside the amendment, the Senate passed a bill outlining the regulation of sports betting.

The proposal includes a 20% tax on betting, with 80% supporting Georgia's HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs, 15% funding for treatment of problem gambling, and 5% promoting sporting events in Georgia.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Senator Bill Cowsert, has emphasized the need to protect people from gambling harms. He highlighted the fact that young men are amongst the most vulnerable and said that this needs to be taken into account.

At the same time, the chair of the House Higher Education Committee, Chuck Martin, has said that rather than allocating 5% of tax money to promoting sporting events, suitable organizations should compete for the funds.

Related: Sports Betting Bill Rejected in Georgia Again

Local Demand for Sports Betting

It is predicted that sports betting could generate as much as $100 million in tax revenue for Georgia; however, Cowsert thinks that $50 million would be a more accurate figure. Nonetheless, he says that the aim of legalization is not to raise money but because residents and local sports teams desire it.

He added that sports betting would give the state the chance to make Atlanta’s sports clubs more popular and that it would lead to further engagement by fans. However, while there is growing support for legalizing sports betting, there is not much time for its supporters as the 2024 General Assembly session concludes next week.

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