Georgia is now one step closer to legalizing sports betting after the state’s Senate Economic Development Committee approved Senate Bill 57 by an 8-1 vote, sending the legislation to a full vote.
Under the plan, the Georgia Lottery Corporation would oversee the legal sports betting infrastructure, adding the vertical to the list of games already authorized by the creation of the state lottery in 1992.
Through this plan, Georgia would not have to amend its constitution to legalize sports betting, as it could become law without any vote from the general public, instead requiring a simple majority from both the state Senate and House.
The proposed bill would legalize betting both online and at in-person kiosks, which could be deployed at a variety of businesses, including sports venues.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Senator Billy Hickman, said 20% of the adjusted gross income raised by sports betting would go to the Georgia Lottery to benefit education. He also claims sports betting could generate $300 million to $400 million annually for the state, and create $1 billion in state economic impact, as well as 8,500 jobs.
Georgia has seen previous efforts stall, and has a long way to go before sports betting actually becomes legal. The state Senate introduced bills in 2021 and 2022, with the former actually passing the Senate, but neither made it into law.
This bill is being considered in parallel to House Bill 380, which seeks to legalize mobile sports betting, also without the need for a constitutional amendment. The "Georgia Lottery Game of Sports Betting Act" would authorize the Georgia Lottery to operate and regulate sports wagering in the state. Revenue from the activity would also go to educational programs under the Georgia Lottery, including the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K education.
'HB 380 would allow sports betting to become legal and bring Georgia in line with 36 other states across the country that have already taken this step,' state Rep. Marcus Wiedower said in an announcement last week. 'Sports betting is already occurring in our state. Legalizing this activity could generate tens of millions of dollars in additional education funding for our state if properly regulated.'
Wiedower estimates that legalized sports betting could generate roughly $50-75 million in revenue. 'I would be surprised if we did not pass online sports betting this year,' state Sen. Jason Esteves said during a virtual town hall. '...It’s an industry that continues to grow, and we’re going to continue to hear it until something passes.'