Stacey Abrams launches football-themed call to legalize sports betting

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Just in time for college football season, Stacey Abrams has launched a new round of Georgia Bulldog-themed campaign ads promoting her call to legalize sports betting.

The Democrat’s campaign rolled out a round of 15-second and 30-second ads targeting voters who visit online betting sites and webpages linked to the University of Georgia’s top-ranked team.

It’s part of an effort to legalize casino gambling and sports betting to expand the HOPE scholarship and finance a needs-based higher education program. First outlined in August, the plan is another policy divide with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who leads in the polls.

“While Georgians still place bets, Kemp is forcing them out of state to do it, taking the tax dollars with them,” a narrator says in the ads. “That means even when Georgia wins the bet, states like Tennessee get the tax money.”

And it’s the latest example of Georgia candidates trying to channel passion for college football into electoral energy. Kemp and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker, a former UGA football star, have tied their campaigns to the reigning football champs.

Since a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states to legalize sports betting, a handful of prominent state lawmakers have sought to bring it to Georgia in hopes of generating more revenue without raising taxes.

But legislation to authorize online sports wagering has gone nowhere in Georgia amid disagreements over whether betting on college sports should be allowed, how the new revenue should be spent and what types of gambling should be legalized.

Kemp opposed legalizing sports betting in 2018 but steered clear of the debate during this year’s legislative session. A spokesman for the governor, Tate Mitchell, has said he plans to work with legislative leaders on a measure to allow sports betting in 2023 if he’s reelected.

The idea appears to have significant public support. A 2020 poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that about 58% of Georgia voters support legalizing sports betting.