Revenue raised from sports betting would go to needs-based scholarships, rural broadband and rural health care.
Supporters have said sports betting could bring anywhere from $30 million to $100 million in revenue to the state. Critics have such numbers are exaggerated.
Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Elena Parent of Atlanta successfully amended the bill to require that at least half of the money raised go to needs-based scholarships.
Those placing wagers would have to be 21 years old and in Georgia. Bets could be placed on professional sports and sporting events that don’t involve Georgia teams.
Mullis stressed that whatever passed the Senate would likely not be the final product, since the House is expected to consider similar legislation, House Bill 86, next week.
“I know this process is just beginning,” Mullis said. “It’s going to move down the road and there are going to be many changes.”
For years, gambling supporters have pushed the Legislature to expand the industry to allow casinos or horse racing. But a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened an opportunity for states to legalize sports betting. About 20 states either have or are in the process of establishing legal sports betting.
The legalization of sports betting is backed by the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance, a coalition of four professional franchises — the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United.
And powerful Republicans, including House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, have signaled some support for sports betting legislation.
SR 135 and SB 142 now go to the House for its consideration.