State legislators have revived a dormant Georgia sports betting bill as the state struggles to recover after the pandemic.
The Senate Special Judiciary Committee discussed the bill last Friday and have added the measure to an unrelated bill about traffic tickets. That bill, HB 903, had already passed back in March and is now able to help bring sports betting to Georgia.
Senator Burt Jones, who sponsored the original bill, spoke on Friday about the opportunity the state has to legally regulate an activity that would generate revenue and is occurring illegally regardless. He claimed it would add a significant stream of revenue to Georgia’s betting market.
The Ideal Plan
Jones had orchestrated the original version of the bill titled SB 403. He was inspired by Tennessee’s sports betting legislation.
The bill only applies to online sports betting opposed to other states, which usually begin with in-person wagering at casinos. A 20% tax rate is also included, and an official league data mandate for active wagers.
The senator had proposed a 10% tax on the revenue made from sports betting but has recently expressed interest in raising that rate. The bill also demands $900,000 for an annual licensing fee with no cap on the number of operators.
On Friday, Jones expressed that online sports wagering should bring in an estimated $60 million in revenue.
Many of Georgia’s sports executives have given praise to the bill, including the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance. Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said on Friday that he believes it will be a great way to reach fans, especially during the pandemic, when most major sports have ceased and will only slowly be restarting.
Hope for Sports Betting in Georgia Again
Before the pandemic, Jones’ SB 403 was quietly forgotten about and was never voted on. Because of the need to make up for money lost during quarantine, legislators have been looking for innovative ways of bringing in revenue.
Georgia has reportedly faced a multibillion-dollar budget deficit mainly caused by shutdowns amid the pandemic. In recent weeks, it has become one of the first states to begin opening after COVID-19.
The addition of sports wagering in House Bill 903 is being referred to as the Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering and Integrity Act. As Georgia does not have any land-based casinos, participants will be able to play from anywhere in the state through their mobile devices and computers.
Georgia’s acceptance of sports betting could also serve as a platform for other states, like South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama, to pursue the legalization of sports betting in their respective states. North Carolina has recently added sports wagering to its betting market, although only in-person sports betting is offered.
States like Mississippi and Louisiana are also pursuing sports betting legislation as a way to increase revenue due to their budget deficit.
There are still a few steps to go through before Georgia can officially introduce sports betting, but legislators are hoping to bring wagering to fans as soon as possible.