Georgia moves closer to sports betting after bill passes senate

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Senate Resolution 579, which seeks to approve sports betting in Georgia, passed by 41 to 12. This was easily enough to meet the two-thirds majority needed to amend the state’s constitution through a referendum.

SR579 is led by Senator Bill Cowsert, who submitted the ultimately unsuccessful Senate Bill 172 in 2023. In a largely unchanged form, though, SR579 looks more likely to end up passing.

Earlier in February, Senator Clint Dixon’s Senate Bill 386 was adopted after passing with a vote of 35-15. Enabling legislation SB386 looked to establish a framework of regulation in the state and was amended so that the support of 38 senators was needed to pass.

Cowsert’s proposals would see 80% of tax revenue attributed to the lottery’s education fund. Some 15% would go to public education on problem gambling, while 5% would be given to the Sports Promotion Fund and used for the “advancement” of sports in Georgia.

Next steps before Georgia sports betting

The bill will now go to the state house, where it will need two-thirds approval to progress to a ballot. A referendum would then be scheduled, with the likelihood being the vote would be in November of this year.

Cowsert called the decision to have a vote on whether to legalise sports betting “politically appropriate”.

The tax rate still needs to be decided and it remains to be seen whether Georgia will go down the route of New York’s 51%, or the likes of Iowa and Nevada’s 6.75%.

The bill is still facing opposition, however. Senator Marty Harbin, who has long opposed the legalisation of betting in the state, called problem gambling a “real addiction”. Harbin also pointed to the state’s strong financial position as a reason why Georgia is not in need of tax revenue from gambling.

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