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Georgia Sports Betting Ultimate Guide: Senate Passes Bill But Voters Will Have Final Say

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 6 mins

Georgia Sports Betting Ultimate Guide: Senate Passes Bill But Voters Will Have Final Say

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A bill to legalize Georgia sports betting passed the State Senate Thursday, but it requires voters to approve Constitutional amendment in November before wagering could begin. 

This means no sports betting in the Peach State until 2025. 

The bill (SB 386) by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett) passed by a 35-15 vote, but only after a provision was added adding a Constitutional amendment to expand gambling. That leaves the issue up to voters in the 2024 general election set for November 4. The bill, which enjoys the backing of Gov. Brian Kemp and the state's pro sports teams, now goes to the House. 

Sports betting in the state would be operated by the Georgia Lottery Corporation. Those 21 and over to wager on collegiate and professional sports through up to 16 mobile/online licenses. It imposes a tax rate of 20% on net betting revenues. 

Previous attempts to legalize sports betting in Georgia have fallen short for various reasons in recent years. 

The money from sports betting would go to various educational programs, need-based college scholarships, and problem gambling programs, which should help It earn support from Democrats in both chambers.

The bill initially called for betting to begin without the necessity of a Constitutional amendment. But it became clear early during the final debate for passage that it would not clear the upper chamber. 

Georgia Surrounded By Legal Betting

Georgia Sports Betting Ultimate Guide: Senate Passes Bill But Voters Will Have Final Say 1

The three most populous states bordering Georgia – Tennessee, Florida, and North Carolina – all have legal sports betting. Betting is online in Tennessee and Florida. It is set to launch in North Carolina on March 11, just ahead of March Madness. 

GeoComply does location tracking for online mobile sports betting operators, and other clients, and operates in more than 40 jurisdictions around the world. It tracks 28 million transactions per day. 

In 2023, GeoComply tracked more than 3.4 million location checks from mobile and online sports betting platforms from devices located in Georgia trying to access legal mobile sportsbooks in other states. It identified more than 290,000 different mobile sports betting accounts operated by people in Georgia trying to access betting sites out of state. And 44% of those attempts were attempting to gain access to books in Tennessee. 

Fourth Time The Charm In Georgia? 

Hopes for sports betting have been fading in Georgia since the attempt in 2021 failed to get through the state senate because of partisan fighting. 

While the GOP holds a 98-79 edge in the House, passage is far from certain because a number of conservative GOP representatives oppose the expansion of any gambling. Given that this is an election year, if the GOP needs to get Democratic support, expect some political back-and-worth before a deal is done.

The final day for the legislature this year is March 28.

The bill enjoys support from Georgia's professional sports teams and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

"People of Georgia are smart enough to decide whether they want to remove the gambling prohibition in our constitution. We need to let the people of Georgia vote on this," said Sen. Carden H. Summers (R-Cordele). "Let’s let people vote to decide what they want in Georgia, just like we let them vote for the lottery."

 Voters approved the Georgia Lottery in a similar manner on November 1992. 

Georgia Sports Betting At A Glance

Here's a breakdown of what Georgia sports betting would look like under the bill passed by the Senate. 

Online Betting Licensees: 16

License Holders: Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta United FC
Atlanta Dream
Augusta National Golf Course
PGA Tour
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Georgia Lottery Corporation
(7 Others To Be Awarded By The GLC)

Adjusted Gross Revenue Tax Rate: 20%

License Fees: $1 million per year

Application Fee: $100,000

Pro Sports Betting: Yes

College Sports Betting: Yes

Credit Cards: No

Georgia Sports Betting Timeline  

Georgia Sports Betting Ultimate Guide: Senate Passes Bill But Voters Will Have Final Say 2

Here’s the timeline of legal sports betting in Georgia. 

📅   February 1, 2024: The Senate approves a bill that would legalize sports betting in Georgia by a 35-15 vote. The bill requires passage of a Constitutional amendment by voters in the November general election. This means gambling in the state won't start in 2024. The bill now goes to the House.  

📅   January 30, 2024: A sports betting bill clears the Economic Development and Tourism Committee by an 8-2 vote. SB 386 would allow 16 operators to be licensed in the state, would ban credit cards to fund wagers, and tax net gambling revenues at 20%. 

📅   January 23, 2024: A new bill introduced by a 12-member; a bipartisan group of state senators would run sports betting through the Georgia Lottery. It allows those over 21 who are eligible to wager on college and pro sports online in the state. Licensees would pay $1 million for a 5-year permit. This bill would not require an amendment to the Georgia constitution, nor the creation of a Georgia Sports Betting Commission. 

📅  March 29, 2023: The Georgia Senate fails to vote on an amended bill that would have allowed voters to decide on a constitutional amendment to approve sports betting. That ends hopes for sports betting in 2023.

📅  January 31, 2023: A proposed Senate bill would allow up to 18 online sportsbooks. 

📅  April 4, 2022: Georgia sports betting is put on hold until at least 2023 as fierce partisan fighting sinks any hope for legislation in both the House and Senate. 

📅  March 31, 2021: The House fails to pass HB 142 and SR 135, meaning no sports betting until 2022. 

📅  March 5, 2021: The Senate passes 2 bills to legalize and regulate sports betting. 

Potential Sports Books In Georgia 

After Texas and California, Georgia is the most populous state without legal sports betting. The state has more than 11 million people and is the 8th largest in terms of population. Sports betting enjoys the backing of the state’s professional sports teams – including the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks – NASCAR, and the PGA Tour

FanDuel operates software engineering, product development, user experience, and user interface teams out of a 68,000-square-foot office in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward District and expects to employ 900 people there by 2027.

Here's a list of the sports books that could potentially operate in Georgia. 

About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.