Georgia Legislature.

  • Georgia House Bill 86 to legalize sports betting in the state has moved forward in the General Assembly after increasing the tax rate on GGR to 20%.
  • The bill would make mobile sportsbooks available for Georgians to gamble on professional sports.

ATLANTA – A sports betting bill in Georgia has moved forward within the House after receiving amendments to the legislation regarding tax rates on Monday. House Bill 86 would legalize mobile sportsbooks in the Peach State.

Once a tax rate was increased to 20% on sports betting revenue, the committee approved the legislation to continue toward legalization. A minimum of six sports betting operators would be required for the market to launch in Georgia, as is stipulated within the latest draft of GA HB 86.

Details of House Bill 86

House Bill 86 is a proposal to have sports gaming available to Georgians through complete mobile access. No retail sportsbooks would be made legal through this bill. However, the tax rate for a solely mobile industry like that of Tennessee required a larger chunk of GGR to be taken out in order for it to be seen as a profitable new business for the state to take on.

Tennessee has a 20% tax rate with their sports gaming platforms which the Georgia General Assembly believes is fair and they amended the bill to show that for Georgia. While 20% may seem high for operators, it is still in the realm of doable for them to turn a profit as well, which won’t lead them to break out into other states and decide to open up shop in the market for legal sports betting in Georgia.

Originally, House Bill 86 had a tax rate of 14% on revenue that was then increased to 16% before finally landing on 20%. All revenue from a legal sports betting market in the state is earmarked for the education system, per proposal details. There are other bills on the table that would make sports wagering legal in Georgia but GA HB 86 is receiving the most traction to date.

As far as concerns about minority participation, bill sponsor Representative Ron Stephens addressed the issue on Monday during the committee hearing by saying that it was something that could be discussed once the bill was made into law. The subject could interfere with the rules and regulations of the Georgia Lottery who would be serving as the regulatory body for the sports wagering market.

Under House Bill 86, no collegiate sports betting will be allowed. That rule has remained in place as others have been amended through the legislative process thus far.

What’s Next For Georgia?

Georgia has until April 2 to decide on legalized sports betting. The General Assembly adjourns after that. House Bill 86 will move to the House Rules Committee where it will need to pass a floor vote to continue moving forward.

Going the route of having the Georgia Lottery as the regulator to a completely mobile industry is the only way to make sports betting legal in Georgia without the need for an amendment to the constitution of the state. It is unlikely that the competing Senate bill, GA SB 142 will see a positive trajectory even though it calls for the same things as the House bill but only puts a 10% tax rate on revenue which might be less profitable for Georgians and their economy.

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