Georgia Capitol

  • The Georgia General Assembly adjourns for the 2021 session on Wednesday.
  • Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 to regulate sports wagering in Georgia were in need of a House vote for final passage but did not receive one.
  • Both bills will die in session leaving Georgians to have to wait until the 2022 session to see if regulated sports betting for the state is still a possibility to be seen in 2023.

ATLANTA – Georgia lawmakers made huge progress to regulate sports betting in 2021 only to be stifled at the end of the session where two bills for a regulated gaming market will die in session on Wednesday. Both Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 passed in the Senate and were awaiting approvals from the House to move forward to Governor Brian Kemp for his signature.

However, the House has had both proposals in their possession since March 8 where they received their first introductions. Second readings took place on March 9 and on March 23, the House appeared to be in favor of Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 with just eight days left in the session to vote on the two bills.

Neither bill was put on the docket to be heard for voting as the session closes out for 2021 on Wednesday, allowing the bills to die in the House with it.

What The Bills Could Have Brought To Georgia

Having these proposals die out, Georgians will need to wait until most likely 2024 to see a regulated sports betting industry. GA SR 135 was a referendum bill to change the constitution of the state in how it currently views wagering on sports. If it had passed, the subject of a regulated sports gaming industry would have been put to a public vote on the November 2022 ballots.

If a majority vote was seen, the industry for gambling on sports in Georgia would have made its debut in 2023. Now the best that residents can hope for is for the topic to pass in the 2022 session to have a chance to vote on it the same year. Or, it might be put on the 2024 ballot. That could be a three-year wait, almost double the original timeline because the House did not vote on Senate Resolution 135 to make an earlier vote possible.

Senate Bill 142 was the foundation on which the sports betting market would be based on so that Georgia could hit the ground running with the framework needed should the public want sports betting. By all accounts, from professional sports organizations to resident testimony to policymakers that are advocates for sports gaming, a majority vote was the likeliest result which is why GA SB 142 was needed.

The measure had the Georgia Lottery Corporation listed as the regulatory body of the industry where they would need to license at least six mobile sportsbooks to go live with the market statewide. Operators would have paid a $10,000 fee upfront and then $100,000 annually to renew their license to operate a sportsbook in the Peach State.

Professional sports and collegiate sports betting excluding Georgia colleges would have been open for wagers. A 20% revenue on all GGR was requested and earmarked for education, broadband services, mental health programs, and the Georgia General Fund.

What Special Circumstances Could Arise For Georgia Sports Betting In 2023?

Given the amount of backing that both bills received in 2021, there is still a chance that regulated sports betting could be placed on the November 2022 ballot with a launch of the market in 2023, but how?

Because of how favorable the proposals were in 2021, the 2022 session could allow for a quick approval of similar legislation that could still work to put the subject on the ballot for November 2022 with a 2023 industry rollout.

While this may seem unlikely, it could very well happen as regulated sports betting continues to make its way throughout the nation and Georgia lawmakers have made the argument that the state does not want to fall behind by letting other states profit from an industry where they could be doing the same by approving legislation to make it happen.

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