Monday, was the last session for the Legislature and the last chance for Georgia to legalize sports betting this year. Unfortunately, for sports betting fans in the Peach state, there will be No Legal Sports Betting in Georgia this year.
Originally, a sports gambling law was not even on the ballot. However, last week a House committee put two bills that had been dormant up for voting. Since both Bills had made it pass the Senate in 2021, there was a slight chance of success.
The move gave lawmakers 2 options to legalize sports wagering in Georgia. The first through the lottery (SB 142) which did not even come up for voting. The second, SR 135 would put the legalization in the hands of voters at the ballot box in November.
While Bill SR 135 did pass the house with a 160-6 vote, it had nothing to do with sports betting. This is because lawmakers made last minute changes to Bill SR 135. Thus, transforming it from sports betting bill to a timber tax break bill.
No Legal Sports Betting in Georgia for at Least Another 2 Year
Making sports betting in Georgia is tricky because the state Constitution prohibits most forms of gambling. Therefore, it one of the most restrictive states in the country for gambling. In order to make sports wagering legal, lawmakers have two options.
The first is to pass sports betting as a constitutional amendment, which requires a two-thirds vote. The idea was to do it with the original SR 135 Bill. However, this is much more difficult in comparison to majority passage. This is because of the state’s historic opposition to gambling making it tougher for new forms of gaming.
The second option was with Bill SB 142 which would legalize retail and online sports betting. Since SB 142 would fall under the lottery, there was a chance of it passing. However, the Georgia legislature chose not to put it up for voting. In addition, there is a chance that opponents would challenge the legality of that bill.
If sports gambling becomes legal in 2023, it is unlikely that Georgians would be able to bet on sports immediately. This is because any gambling bill would likely need the approval of state voters in a general election ballot referendum. Since the original SR 135 did not go thru, a new referendum will have to pass to make it happen.
Until then, Georgians will have to go to another state to bet on sports or use illegal offshore sportsbooks