Georgia Senate Advances Sports Betting Bill
In a swift move highlighting the prioritization of sports betting in Georgia, the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee voted 8-2 to advance SB 386, a bill proposing the operation of sports betting under the Georgia Lottery. Notably, the bill seeks to establish sports betting without the need for a ballot referendum to amend the state constitution.
Introduced by Rep. Clint Dixon with strong backing from sports betting operators and prominent Atlanta sports teams, the bill focuses on directing funds to the Georgia Lottery for Pre-K and HOPE programs. Dixon emphasized that no constitutional amendment is required under this proposal.
Senator Brandon Beach, the committee chair and one of the bipartisan co-sponsors, efficiently moved the bill through the committee after a brief 15-minute discussion. There are indications that SB 386 could face a floor vote in the Senate as early as Thursday, according to industry sources. For the hottest online casinos in Georgia, make sure you visit our other pages
Tax Rate Increase and Amendments
During the committee session, an amendment proposed by Sen. Derek Mallow resulted in three key changes to the bill:
- Tax Rate Increase: The tax rate for sports betting was raised from 15% to 20%.
- Promoting Diversity: Language encouraging participation by minority-led companies was added.
- Exclusion of Special Olympics Wagers: Wagers on the Special Olympics were explicitly excluded from the bill.
“SB 386 advances in Georgia Senate, proposing sports betting under the Lottery without a constitutional amendment. Amendments include a tax rate increase and support for minority-led participation, shaping the state's sports betting landscape.”
Key Details in the Bill
- Online-Only Betting: Sports betting is limited to online platforms with no physical presence.
- Licensing Structure: The potential for 16 sports betting apps, with seven standalone licenses and eight licenses tethered to Georgia professional sports entities.
- Georgia Lottery Involvement: The Georgia Lottery Corp. has the opportunity to offer its sports wagering app.
- Credit Card Prohibition: Funding online sports betting accounts with credit cards is prohibited.
Opposition and Chamber of Commerce Support
Notably, religious groups such as the Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Georgia Baptist Mission Board testified against the bill, citing moral concerns and questioning its legality without a constitutional amendment.
On the other hand, the Metro Atlanta Chamber voiced support, emphasizing the potential economic benefits, job creation, and revenue for education that could result from the bill's passage. This marks the second sports betting bill to advance in the Georgia Senate within the first month of the legislative session. While Sen. Bill Cowsert's SB 172, requiring voter approval for a constitutional amendment, has also progressed, SB 386 offers an alternative approach.
Observers anticipate a decisive week in the Georgia Senate, where a stance on sports betting through the lottery without a constitutional amendment may be taken. The legislative session concludes on March 28, adding urgency to the unfolding developments in Georgia's sports betting landscape.