Georgia sports betting bills lingering in house hearing

A sports betting package has had plenty of hearings but no House votes
georgia sports betting



Georgia sports betting update

Time is running out for Georgia sports betting hopes, at least in the short term.

A Georgia Senate-approved sports betting package is currently sitting in a House committee with just eight more days remaining in the 2024 legislative session. The Georgia House Committee on Higher Education has held public hearings on bill and resolution for a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in the Peach State.

The bills needs to be approved by March 28 to give Georgia voters a chance to approve sports betting in the November general election.

Where does Georgia sports betting stand?

Over the last two weeks the Georgia House Committee on Higher Education has held public hearings on Sen. Bill Cowsert’s (R-16) resolution, SR 579, to require a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting and Sen. Clint Dixon’s (R-45) bill, SB 386, to enable the legislation.

SB 386 proposes legalizes online sports betting for 16 license holders in the state. The legislation sets the sports betting tax rate at 20% of adjusted gross revenue. Licenses would cost $1 million annually to renew and applicants would have to pay a $100,000 application fee. It would allow for bets on college sports.

The bill accounts for a total of 16 online sports betting licenses, with the numbers breaking down as follows:

  • Five for Georgia professional sports teams (Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta United FC, and Atlanta Dream)
  • One for Augusta National Golf Course
  • One for the PGA Tour
  • One for Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • One for the Georgia Lottery Corporation

The remaining seven licenses will be awarded by the gaming commission.

Cowsert’s resolution requires sports betting be legalized through a constitutional amendment and approved by Georgia voters in the November general election. It would call for the creation of a new gaming commission to regulate sports betting and award sports betting licenses.

By legalizing sports betting through a constitutional amendment, it frees up the state to determine what sports betting tax revenues can support. All lottery revenues have to fund HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs in the state

Dixon’s original bill would have funneled nearly all sports betting tax revenues into the Georgia Lottery, which would have been used to fund HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs in the state. Cowsert filed his resolution with the following sports betting tax revenue disbursements:

  • 80% into the Educational Opportunity Fund. The fund will support pre-kindergarten programs in the state. Once fully funded, the remaining revenues will go to the HOPE scholarships
  • 15% to a responsible gaming fund
  • 5% to a Sports Promotion Fund to attract major sporting events to the state

Time is running out, however, for the committee to move the bills forward. Only eight days remain in the 2024 session and the legislation still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives and potentially concurred by the Senate if any amendments are approved.

Let voters have final say

The last time Georgia residents had a say on gaming expansion was in 1992 when voters approved an amendment to allow a lottery in the state. Cowsert said sports betting’s outcome should be no different.

“Democracy is a pretty powerful thing. I don’t think you can rightly criticize allowing the citizens of this state to decide what they do and do not want. They might make a bad choice, they might make a good choice, but it’s not always appropriate for us to dictate our will on them, especially with huge policy issues like this,” he said at the latest committee hearing.

Georgia citizens have been betting on sports for decades, he said, and have clamored for its legalization over the last several years.

Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-121) agreed and said sports betting has been one of the most talked about pieces of legislation in his district and among his constituents since last year. Wiedower introduced his own sports betting legislation in 2023.

“You start talking about constituents…I’ve gotten more emails for sports betting than I have against it since last year. That’s just a fact.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not an online gambling operator or gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.