Georgia lawmaker hopes new sports gambling bill finds success
Senator Burt Jones thinks Georgia can launch sports gambling with no constitutional amendment
The Peach State is working on having legal sports gambling within its borders, though, based on the current situation, it is a little different. For starters, Georgia does not have any physical casinos anywhere in the state, which really limits the existence of brick and mortar sportsbooks. To tackle this situation, Senator Burt Jones presented a new bill (SB 403), seeking to legalize sports wagering and allow online-only sportsbooks to operate. All the regulatory power would be granted to the Georgia Lottery.
This bill presented by Jones gives the ability to wager to those residents 21 and older. Also, the state would tax 20% of the total revenue that, according to the bill, will be used to fund the state’s scholarship program, HOPE. This is a one-time $500 award that is granted to eligible people, and it can be used to pay for tuition in a university within Georgia’s borders. The remaining 5% of the funds will be used to fund addiction treatment services.
Based on the data shared by Jones, the illegal sports gambling market in Georgia is collecting at least $1.5 billion, so he insisted on the benefits for the state if it can get a hold on a percentage of that revenue. “It’s going on currently,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And so, we feel like – much like the internet sales tax – that it’s just an opportunity for us to capitalize on an entity that’s already operating.”
Lawmakers have been looking at the possibility of sports betting to increase the state revenue since last year, even plans of having the first casino facility were suggested just last month. Even though Georgia has been one of the most anti-gambling states, it has been gaining more acceptance; therefore, public opinion has been changing and so are the politicians.