The Georgia state legislature ends with no sports betting bill passed

  • Two bills that would make sports betting legal in Georgia did not pass in the 2020 session as they were not heard on the final day of hearings, June 26.
  • A legal sports betting market in the Peach State shows estimates of $60 million a year in revenue if they were to legalize the industry.

ATLANTA – Sports bettors will need to catch the midnight train out of Georgia if they want to place bets at a legal retail or mobile sportsbook as the legislation did not pass for a local market this session.

There were a few bills on the table that would have made a legal sports betting industry in the Peach State a reality but they were unable to make it through the Georgia General Assembly, who held their final hearings on June 26.

Lawmakers had a full docket of issues to sort through on their final day in session and unfortunately, the bills regarding sports betting were thrown to the wayside.

The Bills That Were Being Considered

In their original forms, both bills to legalize wagering on sporting events in Georgia did not pass the infamous “Crossover Day” in the Assembly. Statistically, any bill up for consideration in the state that does not reach some sort of approval by March 12 (Crossover Day) will stall out for the remainder of the year. By that date, legislators have chosen which bills warrant further consideration and cherry-pick them as such.

However, Senate Bill 403 and House Resolution 378 got a second chance when the Assembly shut down on March 14 because of the Coronavirus. During this time, each bill chose to latch onto bills that had crossed over to be heard once the session reopened.

GA SB 403 became GA HB 903 and GA HR 378 became GA SR 841. Hearings reconvened on June 15 until June 26 to tie up the loose ends of the 2020 session. It was during this time that these sports betting bills would be able to be heard.

Senator Burt Jones, the sponsor for Senate Bill 403, added gambling on sporting events to the traffic bill known as House Bill 903. The addition to the bill would allow for the Georgia Lottery to regulate a strictly mobile sports betting industry in the state.

Stipulations within the bill made it so that gamblers were only allowed to wager a specific amount of time before being cut off and high school wagers were prohibited. A 10% tax would have been put on all revenue gained from the industry with an estimated annual revenue of up to $60 million.

As for GA SR 841, that was an all-encompassing bill on gambling that would require a vote by the constituents of Georgia on their November 2020 ballot. Sports betting was part of the deal within the documents.

However, the idea of a full-fledged gambling industry in the Peach State was somewhat of a pipe dream as Governor Brian Kemp has spoken out against legalized gambling. And at the end of the day, it would be his signature that’s needed to greenlight the industry once it’s been voted on.

The Future Of Legal Sports Betting In Georgia

It’s possible that riding the wave off of other bills’ approvals could have worked out nicely for sports betting to finally pass within the Assembly. However, the Coronavirus Pandemic threw the entire 2020 session out of whack, and too many other pressing issues needed to be dealt with before adjournment.

Some believe that waiting until a new Governor is in office will be the right timing to broach sports betting legalization but that won’t happen until at least 2022. Despite his personal views, Kemp has said in the past that he would not oppose a referendum style bill that left it up to public vote.

Georgia has a number of sports bettors residing in their state as they are home to a number of great major league teams.

Supporters believe a legal sports betting industry would only help to ensure the safety of these bettors that have been forced to go elsewhere to place wagers and would also add a new stream of revenue to an economy hit strongly by COVID-19.

With lawmakers and sports betting advocates continuing to draw up new proposals, 2021 could be the year that the Peach State gets the approval they were seeking in the 2020 session for a legalized gambling market.

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