Republican state Senator Burt Jones filed a bill yesterday that would legalize online sports betting in the state of Georgia. Jones hopes to authorize the Georgia Lottery to manage the online sports wagering system without the need for a constitutional amendment.
Jones Hopes to Avoid Constitutional Amendment
There have been many failed attempts to expand gambling in the state of Georgia. One of the main reasons is the requirement of a constitutional amendment under the current law. The amendment would require two-thirds support in each chamber of the Legislature and a majority of Georgia voters. In a state that is notoriously conservative on the subject of gambling, that's a lot of hoops to have to jump through.
That's why state Senator Burt Jones is hoping to get Senate Bill 403 passed through what he calls "legislation that needs a lower threshold of support." Jones said that since the illegal sports betting market in Georgia is estimated to be $1.5 billion, it makes sense for the state to regulate the system.
Professional Teams in Georgia Support Legal Sports Gambling
Jones is not the only voice making the argument that with the amount of money being spent on the black market by residents of the state, Georgia might as well consider legalization. The Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance has been beating that drum ever since its formation. The coalition is made up of the four professional sports teams in Atlanta; the Braves (MLB), the Falcons (NFL), the Hawks (NBA) and Atlanta United (MLS).
"Today, Georgians are spending more than $1 billion in the illegal sports betting market," said Billy Linville, a lobbyist that represents the Atlanta professional sports teams. "It's now time for them to wager in a fully regulated environment that protects consumers and the integrity of games."
Opposition in the State Still Strong
The likelihood of this bill passing is anyone's guess. Senate Republican leaders in the state do not seem interested in the subject. There are also groups like Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition that will continue to strongly oppose any gambling initiatives. Virginia Galloway, who is a lobbyist for the Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, expressed her disapproval at the Atlanta teams' alliance in the name of legal sports wagering. "Haven't the Braves and Falcons disappointed Georgians enough already?" said Galloway. "Now they're pushing for a casino in every pocket so more Georgians can get fleeced on their cellphones by gambling interests." Not exactly what you would call a ringing endorsement.
Here are the Details of SB 403
The operator licensing fees would be 900K which is reasonable given the prices we've seen elsewhere. The tax rate is set to be 10% of revenue. The following wagers on college sports would be prohibited: "individual actions, events, statistics, occurrences, or non-occurrences to be determined during a collegiate sporting event, including, without limitation, in-game proposition bets on the performance or non-performance of a team or individual participant during a collegiate sporting event." In other words, prop bets would basically not be allowed. It does appear that official league data would be a requirement which of course has the support of the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance.