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Georgia Sports Betting

Editor’s note: As of Jan. 13, 2021

The Peach State hasn’t found the prospect of legal gambling all that peachy in the past.

The fact there are no horse tracks or casinos is partially the result of the state being part of the Bible Belt with a strong church lobby.

But it seems Georgia may have sports betting on its mind, despite past efforts being considered by lawmakers only to suffer a slow death in committees.

Now, however, the prospect of increasing state revenue and adding jobs in the state is driving sports betting interest and giving hope to those pushing its consideration.

In early October 2019, state senate and house panels met to discuss the financial impact to Georgia’s bottom line from legal gambling: casinos, horse racing and sports betting. In addition, the presidents of the state’s four professional teams, the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, MLB’s Atlanta Braves and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, combined to form the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance and sent a letter requesting lawmakers to approve sports betting – but only on pro sports.

The chance of Georgians betting on the Braves or Falcons or Hawks or United is likely more than a year – or longer – away due to an October opinion offered by the state Office of the Legislative Council.

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According to the office, to have sports wager or horse racing in the state, voters will need to OK a constitutional amendment approving the expansion. Lawyers for the Legislature are encouraging lawmakers to pursue an amendment.

Gov. Brian Kemp is on the record as opposing casinos, but, according to the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, he won’t stand in the way of amendment initiative if it guarantees money will assist the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship.

Over the summer, legislators heard from a growing bench of representatives and lobbyists including MGM Resorts, the Atlanta Braves, Wynn Development, the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition interested in gaming expansion to tout the success wagering in other states.

The last poll done on the subject in 2017 showed Georgians at a rate of 56 percent supported casino gaming, but the polls did not specifically address sports betting.

Though three sports wagering bills were proposed during the 2019 legislative session, none made it to the floor. That aside, it appears sports betting will get a hearing when the Georgia Legislature reconvenes in mid-January 2020.

Is sports betting currently legal in the state?

No

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