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Georgia Sports Betting Dies on Final Legislative Day

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Mar 29, 2024 · 6:58 AM PDT

Spencer Strider delivers vs the White Sox.
Jul 15, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (99) throws against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
  • Despite the Georgia Senate approving a sports betting bill in February, efforts stalled in the House
  • A sports betting package never moved out of committee in the final day of Georgia’s legislative session
  • Legalization efforts will likely pick up again in 2025

Just as they did in 2023 and 2022, Georgia’s sports betting hopes were officially dashed during the final day of the Peach State’s legislative session.

A Georgia online sports betting package never moved out of the House Rules Committee on sine die, officially ending any hope sports betting proponents had for this year as legislators adjourned their session close to 1 a.m. this morning.

Lawmakers will likely try to legalize again in 2025, but it’s difficult to envision an outcome that will be much different.

Quick Start, Sluggish Finish

Georgia’s sports betting efforts came out of the gates quickly this year, with the Senate approving Sen. Clint Dixon’s (R-45) bill, SB 386, in early February by a 35-15 vote. Even though Dixon’s bill was amended to include a constitutional amendment for legalization, sports betting momentum was high as the bill moved over to the House.

The bill called for the legalization of online sports betting for 16 license holders. The legislation set the sports betting tax rate at 25% of gross revenue and licenses would have cost operators $1 million annually.

Prior to Senate approval, Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-46) passed an amendment to the bill to require sports betting be legalized through a constitutional amendment.

Cowsert’s resolution, SR 579, required Georgia voters to approve a constitutional amendment in the November general election to legalize sports betting. It also required that 85% of sports betting tax revenue be earmarked for HOPE Scholarship funding, pre-kindergarten funding, educational training, and capital improvements, with the remaining 15% of revenue be dedicated to a problem gaming fund and capped at $150 million.

Yesterday, the bills needed to be moved out of the House Committee on Higher Education, then moved out of the rules committee, and placed on a House calendar for approval.

From there, the package still faced long odds for approval. The resolution required a two-thirds majority vote for approval, the bill required a simple majority, and then both would have been sent to the Senate for concurrence, as they were amended heavily in committee.

The sports betting package never got a chance, however, as it was approved by the Higher Education committee first thing in the morning and moved to Rules, where it was never called to be placed on the House calendar. The Rules committee met three times over the course of the final day of the session, but never considered the sports betting bills.

In the end the support wasn’t there. Rumblings began to trickle out of the House yesterday that the sports betting package didn’t have the necessary Democrat votes to overcome the two-thirds majority and the bills would not be addressed by the rules committee.

Those rumblings proved correct and the package died in committee.

So here we are. Another several months of discussion, an approval in one of the chambers, and a defeat on the final day. Where does Georgia go from here?

Will 2025 Be Any Different?

It’s likely that lawmakers will again take up sports betting in 2025. It has too many supporters and there is too much revenue at stake to be completely ignored.

But will next year be any different? For the last three years lawmakers in the Peach State have tried to approve sports betting and have all failed. This year, at least, it seemed as if a huge question on how sports betting would be legalized had been answered.

Supporters of sports betting in 2024 seemed to agree early on in the process that a constitutional amendment was the best way to legalize, rather than legalize through a simple bill and designate sports betting as a lottery game.

“This is the politically appropriate thing to do, when you make this type of a major policy shift in the state, to let the people vote. Let them weigh in on it,” Cowsert previously said during a committee hearing on his resolution.

But after the Senate approval, momentum slowed in the House. Disagreements on what sports betting revenue should fund began to crop up, and support for the package started to wane during committee discussions.

So what will 2025 be any different? It remains to be seen. While the legalization method seems to be decided on, now it seems as if the sports betting tax revenue funding question still remains.

Maybe with a full session worth of meetings that question will be answered and sports betting will finally cross the finish line next year.

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