The defending World Series champions absorbed a defeat at the state Capitol this week when the Georgia General Assembly ended its 2022 session without passing Braves-backed legislation to legalize sports betting in the state.
“I was incredibly disappointed,” Braves CEO Derek Schiller said.
The Braves, Falcons, Hawks and Atlanta United have pushed over the past three years for Georgia to join a growing number of states with legal gambling on sports.
“I know for a fact we did everything we could to try, and so I don’t think there’s an issue with our effort or the efforts of the other pro teams in town,” Schiller said. “We worked closely with a bunch of the different constituencies involved in trying to put together a framework for a bill that we thought would work. And we ultimately couldn’t even get that bill voted on.
“There's so much illegal sports betting going on in the state of Georgia that we have to bring that out of the shadows and regulate that."
- Braves CEO Derek Schiller
“I suppose it’s mostly disappointing because this is something whose day and time should have come already.”
Schiller said he still hopes for a different legislative outcome next year.
“There’s so much illegal sports betting going on in the state of Georgia that we have to bring that out of the shadows and regulate that,” Schiller said. “It’s our firm position that (legal gambling) only helps secure and improve the success of professional sports teams in particular. And also the taxes that are generated from that if it was legalized benefit the state.
“At some point in time, I think logic should prevail in this. And at this point in time, it hasn’t.”
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2018 cleared the way for states to legalize sports gambling. More than 30 states now have, or are in the process of implementing, legal sports betting.
Schiller said teams in those states have an advantage of increased fan engagement, as well as additional revenue streams such as related advertising or sponsorships.
The Braves mostly are interested in legalizing mobile sports betting, he said.