Georgia Legislature.

  • Two Georgia sports betting bills passed through the state Senate on Friday.
  • One of the bills would put sports betting on the 2022 November ballot for local voters to approve while the other bill lays out the framework for how the industry would work.
  • Lawmakers will have to send the bill to Governor Brian Kemp by April 2.

ATLANTA – Those hoping for Georgia sports betting to be legalized in 2021 received bitter news on Friday as the state Senate passed two sports betting bills.

One of the bills is SB 142 which lays out the framework for how sports betting in Georgia would work. It would allow for a minimum of six online sportsbooks to operate in the state and would grant the state lottery the authority to oversee and regulate the market.

SR 135, on the other hand, would put the issue of sports betting legalization up GA voters on their November 2022 ballots.

“The constitutional amendment is simply allowing the very people that you represent — the ones that vote for or, or maybe don’t vote for you — you’re allowing them to decide no or yes on sports betting,” said Jeff Mullis, Senate Rules Chairman and sponsor of the legislation, before a vote on Friday.

Lawmakers tried to legalize sports betting in Georgia earlier this year by simply adding sports betting to the list of games the lottery provides. Those efforts have since changed as some lawmakers worried that doing so would present possible legal challenges in the future.

If the referendum bill is passed by the House and signed off by Governor Brian Kemp, the soonest GA residents and tourists can expect to use a local online sportsbook will be in 2023.

Details Of The GA Sports Betting Bills

According to the current version of GA SB 142, which passed by a vote of 34-17, sports betting in the Peach State would be an only-only affair.

The model resembles that of a neighboring state, Tennessee, in that online sportsbook companies would have to apply for a license through the state lottery. There would be a minimum of 6 approved, but there is no cap on the total amount of companies that can operate in Georgia.

All sportsbook operators would have to pay a $10,000 fee just to apply. If approved, they would be subject to a $100,000 annual licensing fee along with a 10% tax on gross gaming revenue.

Supporters of the legislation have estimated that online sportsbooks could bring in anywhere from $30 million to $100 million in tax revenue to the state.

Tax revenue would be allocated to college-scholarships, rural broadband, and healthcare in rural areas.

One rule of great significance to the bettors themselves is that betting on in-state college sports would be prohibited. This means betting lines for the Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets would not be found at online sportsbooks in GA. Out-of-state college prop betting would also be banned.

Those using these sports betting platforms will have to 21 years old or older. They will also not be allowed to deposit more than $2,500 to a sportsbook within a 30-day time span.

However, all of these mandates are not set in stone.

Jeff Mullis is expecting the House to amend the bills, in which case the bills would go to a special committee where members of the Senate and House would iron out the details before sending it to Governor Kemp to sign off on.

“I know this process is just beginning,” said Mullis. “It’s going to move down the road and there are going to be many changes.”

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