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Georgia Senate Passes Sports Betting Constitutional Amendment

Discover Georgia's significant legislative progress towards legalizing sports betting with SR579, a constitutional amendment championed by Sen. Bill Cowsert. Learn about the key movements, bipartisan consensus, and revenue allocation for education, as well as the implications for future gaming expansion efforts. Stay updated on the latest developments in Georgia's gaming landscape and track the progress of US iGaming legislation with our online casino bill tracker.
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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: Feb 29, 2024

Georgia Senate Passes Sports Betting Constitutional Amendment

Georgia's foray into legalizing sports betting took a significant leap forward as the state Senate approved SR579, a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting, by a decisive vote of 41-12. This constitutional amendment, championed by Sen. Bill Cowsert, signifies a pivotal moment in Georgia's gaming landscape, paving the way for potential legalization pending voter approval.

 

Key Movements:

  • Significant Legislative Progress: The Georgia Senate's passage of SR579, a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting, marks a significant advancement in the state's gaming landscape. This move indicates a shift towards broader acceptance of legalized gambling activities, potentially setting a precedent for future legislative action and gaming expansion.
  • Revenue Allocation for Education: A key focus of the Senate's deliberations was the allocation of revenue generated from sports betting. Sen. Bill Cowsert's successful negotiation resulted in a plan to allocate 80% of the revenue to the Educational Opportunity Fund, with a specific emphasis on Pre-K education. This demonstrates a commitment to investing in the state's educational infrastructure, potentially garnering broader public support for the initiative.
  • Bipartisan Consensus and Future Implications: The overwhelming support for SR579 highlights a bipartisan consensus on the importance of legalizing sports betting in Georgia. Despite some criticism regarding the prioritization of sports betting over casino gaming, the Senate's decisive action signals a clear direction for the state's gaming future. However, the fate of sports betting in Georgia ultimately rests with the House, emphasizing the importance of swift legislative action and potential implications for future gaming expansion efforts.

 

Moving Forward

Sen. Cowsert emphasized the importance of letting the people have a say in this “major policy shift,” highlighting the democratic principle underlying the decision. The Senate's focus on sports betting alone, rather than bundling it with casino gaming, reflects a strategic decision to streamline the legislative process and prioritize a specific aspect of gaming.

One of the critical aspects addressed during the Senate's deliberations was the allocation of revenue generated from sports betting. Despite initial concerns about revenue distribution complicating the legalization process, Sen. Cowsert successfully negotiated a consensus among his colleagues. The proposed revenue disbursement plan allocates 80% of the revenue to the Educational Opportunity Fund, with a focus on Pre-K education, demonstrating a commitment to investing in the state's educational infrastructure

.

“Sen. Cowsert emphasized the importance of letting the people have a say in this ‘major policy shift,' highlighting the democratic principle underlying the decision.”

 

The overwhelming support for SR579 underscores the bipartisan consensus on the importance of legalizing sports betting in Georgia. The Sports Betting Alliance, previously cautious about a constitutional amendment, has rallied behind the initiative, recognizing its potential to benefit Georgia's educational initiatives.

However, the Senate's decision to prioritize sports betting over casino gaming has not been without criticism. Some senators, like Sen. Carden Summers, expressed concerns about limiting the scope of the debate and denying voters the opportunity to consider both options. Nonetheless, the Senate's decisive action on SR579 signals a clear direction for Georgia's gaming future.

While the Senate has taken a significant step towards legalization, the fate of sports betting in Georgia now rests with the House. With the legislative session drawing to a close, the House must act swiftly to deliberate on SB386 and the corresponding constitutional amendment. Past sessions have seen sports betting legislation stalling in the House, raising concerns about potential partisan divides and delays.

As the deadline for legislative action looms, all eyes are on the Georgia House to determine whether sports betting will make it to the November ballot. While online casino legislation may not be on the immediate horizon, the momentum towards legalizing sports betting sets a precedent for future gaming expansion in the state.

Stay informed about the latest developments in Georgia's gaming landscape and track the progress of US iGaming legislation with our online casino bill tracker. Georgia's journey towards legalizing sports betting marks a crucial chapter in the evolving landscape of gaming regulation in the United States.

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