Republican Georgia State Senator Burt Jones of Jackson, Georgia filed a bill late Thursday, regarding sports betting. Jones has stated to colleagues that he thinks lawmakers are dragging their feet with sports betting and going against the will of the people. According to the new Jones Bill, it would give authority to the Georgia Lottery Commission to make sports betting legal. The profits from the taxes on sports betting would benefit the HOPE Scholarship.

The HOPE Scholarship was started in 1993 by former Georgia Governor Zell Miller, and it helps students finance their college education. Jones said on Friday, ‘that  illegal sports betting in Georgia make close to $2 billion a year, it’s time to make it legal and regulate it.’ Jones went on to say, “It’s going on currently, and so we feel like, much like the internet sales tax, that it’s just an opportunity for us to capitalize on an entity to that currently going on.” Lawmakers earlier this year instituted rules for companies that make money selling items online to be taxed. The new goes into effect on April 1, 2020.

Senator Jones Said Every Day That Sports Betting Is Not Legal Georgia Loses Money

Under the newly proposed sports betting bill that Senator Jones submitted, sports betting providers would be taxed. The bill is known as ‘Senate Bill 403’ and says that sports betting companies would be taxed at a rate of 20 % of the income they bring in from sports betting in Georgia. According to the Jones bill all the profits generated from the tax, would go to the HOPE Scholarship, except for 5% which would go to other state programs.

According to details unveiled in the Jones bill, that 5% profit would go to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities which addresses addiction issues. Like the terms of the prior sports betting bill, all players would have to be at least 21 years of age, and be physically located in the state of Georgia when they actually place the bet.

This New Bill Has The Backing Of The Georgia Professional Sports Alliance

The new unveiled Jones sports betting bill, has the unanimous backing of the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity  Alliance. This group is a cooperative of four major professional sports teams in Georgia. The four teams are the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, and the Atlanta Hawks. For several years in Georgia proponents of legalized gambling have pressed state legislators to legalize horse racing and casinos to no avail. The only gambling that is legal in the Peach State is the lottery.

With a huge Supreme Court ruling in 2018, that overturned a national ban on sports betting, a debate started up again in Georgia. As of February 2020, 12 states have launched legal sports betting, at least a dozen others have pending bills on the table. Legal and gambling experts say that the Jones bill has a fifty-fifty chance of actually progressing. However, State House Speaker David Ralston said, ‘the interest of sports betting in Georgia grows daily.’