Legislators in Georgia will try to bring legalized sports betting once again after failing in the previous session. The advocates will have until the end of March to put it all together as two separate bills were discussed on Thursday.
Are the Two Initiatives Vastly Different From Each Other?
The two bills differ because one bill is focused on avoiding a constitutional amendment while the other is introducing one constitutional amendment. It is simple as it comes. The one that doesn’t need significant changes has an easier path of becoming signed into law.
The reason is the bill needs to get majority support from both chambers to make it to the governor’s desk. Still, there is a lot of work that needs to be done before then because there is more pressure as the bill failed last year.
What Route Will Georgia Lean Towards?
Recently, a bill has been updated, HB 380 proposes the legalization of solely mobile sports betting within Georgia, while other bills like SB 57, which was deliberated on Tuesday, seek to allow both mobile and retail betting options to be legalized.
HB 380 was brought up to the House Higher Education Committee by Rep. Marcus Wiedower. The measure would allow up to 16 mobile sportsbook operators to receive a license in the Peach State.
In contrast, SB 57 would make fixed-odds horse racing wagers legal in the state. In the previous bill, professional franchises expressed their support for legalized sports wagering within Georgia’s borders, and this would allow them to run their own platform.
The adjusted tax revenue rate would be set at 15 percent, and the funds would go towards funding educational programs. Betting on in-state collegiate teams would also be permitted. Could Georgia follow Tennessee’s route by only allowing mobile sports betting?
The Alternative Option for the Peach State
Sen. Bill Cowsert is the chair of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee and will work towards a constitutional amendment concerning SR 140 and SB 172. This would allow retail sports betting, and the Lottery would be allowed to operate its own platform. In addition, six other sportsbooks would enter the picture.
On parlay bets, prop bets, and live bets, non-lottery sports betting operators pay a 25 percent tax rate, while a 20 percent tax rate would apply to adjusted gross income from all other wagers. The tax distribution would be different as well.
According to the bill, half of the revenue would go toward need-based scholarships, grants, and loans. Another quarter would go towards health care, mental health, and economic development in communities that are struggling.
Another 15 percent is geared towards problem gambling measures. Ten percent of the funds would be allocated equally between innovative educational funding and efforts to attract and promote major sporting events in Georgia.
Sen. Bill Cowsert will seek help from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in regard to these practices. Lawmakers will dive into more detail on the bills next week.