Several top sports executives made presentations at an event sponsored by The Atlanta Press Club. Rich McKay of the Atlanta Falcons, Derek Schiller of the Braves and Steve Koonin of the Hawks were all invited guest speakers at the event. The purpose of the sports executives’ appearances at the luncheon was to push for legislation to legalize sports betting in Georgia. All of the speakers at the event wanted to stress that although they are highly in favor of sports betting, it’s not for the reasons many may thing.
They emphasized that have legalized sports betting in the state, is to increase fan engagement to the games. CEO Rich McKay said ‘of course having legalized sports betting, would be profitable for all who engage in it, there are other direct benefits for having it up and running in Georgia. The president and CEO of the Hawks, Steve Koonin said, “Someone who bets on a game, is 19 times more likely to watch it.”
The Sports Executives Said The New Source Of Revenue Can Be Used For Several Programs
Legalized sports betting in the U.S. has only been on the landscape for two years. When the Supreme Court overruled a ban on sports betting in 2018. Since the ruling, 11 states have sports betting up and running, and several other states either have sports betting bills pending or are preparing to launch.
Georgia Republican Congressman Ron Stephens of Savannah has actively been rallying his colleagues to get sports betting in Georgia. He has introduced several pieces of legislation to Georgia legislators. The sports betting that Stephens has outlined goes into detail about how sports betting would work. There are no casinos currently in Georgia, the sports betting would be exclusively done online, on cell phones, computers or other mobile devices.
CEO Rich McKay Believes All Future Revenues Will Revolve Around The Cell Phone
Rich McKay talked about how the world and sports specifically has changed in the technological age of the 21st century. McKay said, “The phone is where a lot of consumption is going on in the digital world.” Under the terms of the Stephens bill, ‘there would be no sports betting allowed on amateur sports like college games. The bill states that the profits from sports betting tax is earmarked for educational programs in Georgia.
The feedback that the sports executes received at the Atlanta Press Club was very positive and encouraging. However, the prospects of getting sports betting passed any time soon in the ‘Peach State’ is not as positive. Georgia Senate Majority leader Mike Dugan, a Republican from Carrolton, said, ‘I’m not ruling it out, but right now sports betting is not a priority for our caucus.’
The Lobbyists for religious groups in the state have a very stern presence in the state. Religious groups have vehemently opposed any type of gambling in the state. Stephens, however, said, ‘The last word has not yet been written on sports betting here.’