A new sports gambling bill is making progress in Georgia, aiming to establish betting under the oversight of the Lottery Corporation without the need for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment.
Senate Bill 386, which proposes the creation of 16 sports betting licenses, received an 8-2 vote from the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee. Despite uncertainties about its prospects, supporters, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Atlanta’s pro sports teams, view it as a win for Georgia.
The current sports gambling measure in Georgia is receiving support from some Democrats, a significant factor given that certain Republicans hold moral objections to gambling. Despite previous years of Democrats withholding their votes for negotiations on other issues, the measure, for now, has their backing.
However, opponents, including Mike Griffin, caution that the measure might be deemed unconstitutional, arguing that voters did not anticipate authorizing sports betting back in 1992 when they allowed the lottery.
In other words, Senate committee advanced a sports betting bill without the need for a constitutional amendment, contrasting an earlier proposal. The bill allocates licenses, including one for the Georgia Lottery and eight for professional sports teams like the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Dream, Atlanta United, NASCAR’s Atlanta Motor Speedway, and golf’s Augusta National and PGA.
Seven licenses, independent of pro sports, would require a $100,000 application fee and a $1 million annual license fee. The bill imposes a 20% tax on proceeds after paying prizes to gamblers. Previous attempts for a constitutional amendment and a bill without an amendment faced challenges in the past year.
While advocates argue that sports betting would yield economic advantages, critics counter these assertions, contending that it serves as a gateway to addiction and emphasizing that, on the whole, bettors are destined to incur losses.
“Gambling is basically legalized fraud, gambling is gambling. You can’t win. The industry can’t lose”,
said Mike Griffin.