New Sports Betting Legislation on the Table in Georgia
As with any state in the US, lawmakers seem to be in a constant struggle to find new ways to bring money to their economy. Many states in the nation are moving towards sports betting or online gaming as a means for new revenues. Georgia is one such state where new legislation keeps popping up only to see nothing come of it regarding a gambling expansion. Just a few days ago, Senator Burt Jones introduced a measure, trying again to see sports betting come to life in the region.
Senate Bill 403
In Georgia, Senator Jones feels that existing state statutes could be rewritten to allow for sports betting. With the introduction of Senate Bill 403, the state would be able to offer sports betting at a fast pace and capture some of the illegal market, which is estimated at around $1.5 billion.
According to Jones, sports betting is going on illegally in the state and the activity is an opportunity for the state to capitalize on something that is already taking place. If the bill is approved, sportsbooks would have to pay a tax of 20% on gross gaming revenues.
Of that amount, 15% would go to the HOPE program which is a scholarship fund for school children. The remainder of the funds would go to treat gambling addiction via the Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities department. Players who want to take part in sports betting would have to be 21 years or older.
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Support for the Measure
For such legislation to move forward, support is needed. For Senate Bill 403, the measure has support from fellow lawmakers as well as other groups like the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance. The group consists of four sports teams from the Atlanta area. Sports leagues are hopping on board with sports betting as they see a need for integrity of the game as well as the ability to earn revenues as well.
A lobbyist associated with sports organizations in the state, Billy Linville, stated that residents of Georgia now spend over $1 billion illegal on sports betting. He says it is time to allow Georgians to wager in a fully regulated environment that protects the consumer as well as game integrity.
For now, lawmakers are continuing the debate as to whether or not they should move forward with a gambling expansion such as sports betting. Common sense dictates that legalization and regulation is needed to protect the consumers as well as bring the money to the state.
With so many other states launching legalized sports betting markets, it seems that lawmakers in Georgia should get on board. However, there may be a few holdouts since the state is a conservative one. Only time will tell if legislation such as the latest introduced measure will be able to gain any ground or if Georgia will continue to fall behind as other states begin offering sports betting and other options within their gambling market.