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Georgia Sports Betting Bill Fails To Advance Beyond House

James Chittick

The latest Georgia sports betting bill attempting to legalize the practice in the state has failed to earn approval.

Despite positive early signs, irreconcilable disagreements on tax allocation meant the bill could not be passed.

Lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on how the revenue generated from online sports betting in Georgia should be spent.

This meant that the House of Representatives did not vote on legislation allowing a public vote on the bill.

Although passed by the Senate, the final day of the 2024 legislative session closed on Thursday before a vote could take place in the House.

This is now the fourth session in a row where lawmakers have failed to agree on online sports betting.

Senate Resolution 579 would have permitted a vote in November on amending the constitution to allow legal online sports betting in Georgia.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 386 would have paved the way for 16 mobile betting apps, with taxes set at 25%.

Georgia Sports Betting Bill Sparks Strong Debate

Those in favour of the bill argued that Georgians should be given the chance to vote on sports betting. Many point out that lots of people already bet in the state using illegal means, and legalization would simply regulate and tax an already existing practice.

Watkinson Republican Rep. Marcus Widower sponsored the bill, and said: “This allows us to get those people off an illegal market into a legal market, allows us to regulate it and tax it, and take care and protect Georgia citizens.”

But opponents were concerned with the risk of addiction and problem gambling, particularly in young people.

Rep. Clay Pirkle, an Ashburn Republican, said: “When it is sanctioned by the state, to me it provides a different level,

“If the state says it’s OK, it becomes OK for a lot of people not doing this now.”

Athens Republican, Sen. Bill Cowsert, led efforts in the chamber, believing up to $22.5m in taxes generated by the bill could be used to treat gambling addiction.

He argued that such a provision would provide “the most robust problem gaming provisions of any sports betting legislation in this country.”

Ultimately, though, the bill would fail. Despite sports betting now being legal in 38 stets in some form, Georgians will have to wait at least another legislative session to see it happen in their state.

James Chittick
James Chittick