If you’re a die-hard gambler, Georgia may not be the state for you. The Peach State have some of the strictest laws against gambling in general, much less sports betting.
However, there’s a chance that could all change in 2024.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned on May 14, 2018 allowing each state in the country to propose and create their own laws and regulations for sports betting.
However, very little gambling currently takes place in Georgia right now. Gambling activities are currently limited to the state lottery and Powerball, plus charitable raffles. Not even bingo or pull tab tickets are legal right now. If you’re willing to take to the Eastern shores, the Emerald Princess Casino is the state’s only cruise ship casino and even then, still can only offer slot machines.
Maybe the one bright spot for Georgia sports bettors is that like many states, while there is no law allowing online betting, there is also no law against it either. This means Georgians are able to play daily fantasy games on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Georgians living in the southern portion of the state are very limited and would have to travel to a neighboring state just to find a casino, though without sports betting, as Florida, South Carolina and Alabama are also yet to legalize. Though northern residents can take advantage of the legalized sports betting options in both Tennessee and North Carolina.
When Will Online Sports Betting Be Legal in Georgia?
There’s a possibility that Georgia online sports betting could be legalized in 2023, however it’s still a bit of a longshot.
The Peach State could be one of the states furthest away from introducing sports betting. The state of Georgia does not even have any physical casinos right now, though a former bill was proposed which would permit the building of two casinos in the future. However, so strict are the laws in Georgia, that the bill refers to the locations as “destination resorts” as opposed to casinos.
Even such events like horse and greyhound racing are prohibited, which is very rare across the United States. Fans in Georgia will have to make a road trip and settle for sports betting Tennessee or sports betting Virginia options.
Former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal had long been opposed to additional gambling in the state, but at the very least stated he’s open to further discussion. Not wanting sports betting to overtake the state lottery and a heavy tax on casino operators are still big stumbling blocks. Now with Gov. Brian Kemp taking over his position, there’s a chance sports betting could be legalized in 2023.
There is support for sports betting in the state with several major sports teams expressing their support, and polls showing a favorable appetite among voters. Earlier legislation had also been proposed in 2019 to allow for legalized sports betting in Georgia, but did not gain momentum. Further bills expired after Crossover Day back on March 12, 2020. Gambling may very well make it onto the ballet with further bills, however, some legislators are against the idea simply because they can’t agree on where to direct the funds from such an endeavor.
Georgia is facing a steep budget shortfall and discussions around sports betting and gambling in general could very well be revisited. It’s estimated that gaming in general could create around $500 million in additional revenue for the state. But in a state that has such a long history of being anti-gambling, and one that would likely require a constitutional amendment through a referendum, plus a vote on whether residents want a casino in their city or county, that day may still be very far away.
Latest Georgia Sports Betting News
Here are some of the latest updates on the legalization of sports betting in Georgia:
- January 30, 2024: Senator Clint Dixon’s Georgia sports betting bill (SB 386) was approved by the Economic Development and Tourism Committee by an 8-2 vote. The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, and if approved, could be sent to the Senate floor quickly.
- January 25, 2024: After failing to legalize sports betting in 2023, Georgia will once again consider a sports betting bill in 2024. Senate sports betting bill SB 386 would legalize wagering without the need for a referendum, and the bill has strong bi-partisan support. The Georgia Lottery Corporation would regulate sports betting, with up to 16 licenses and a 15% tax rate.
- February 21, 2023: One of the most recent Georgia sports betting bills, SB 57, has cleared the State Economic Development Committee by a vote of 8-1. The Georgia sports betting bill introduced by Sen. Billy Hickman would legalize sports betting as a lottery game without any need for constitutional amendment. Despite this easier path to legalization, there are still many voices with differing opinions surrounding how Georgia sports betting should be structured.
- February 14, 2023: Yet another sports betting bill has been introduced in Georgia, with Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-119) introducing HB 380 to legalize retail and online sports betting. Georgia now has two sports betting bills on the table that would not require a constitutional amendment, meaning either of these bills could be passed through legislation as opposed to relying on Georgia voters in a general election.
- February 1, 2023: Georgia state senators have introduced a new sports betting bill, SB 57, that would make way for up to 18 online sportsbook licenses. Nine sports teams, the PGA, and NASCAR would be eligible for these licenses, with the rest distributed through bidding. Retail sports betting would be included in this lottery-regulated sports betting bill.
- March 29, 2022: In a surprising turn of events, two new Georgia sports betting bills (SB 142 and SR 135) that would legalize online and retail sports betting moved out of committee. The two pieces of legislation must be passed further through the House and Senate before April 4, or else Georgia may not have legal sports betting until 2025 at the earliest.
Georgia Sports Betting FAQs
You probably have some questions surrounding Georgia sports betting, so here are some answers to FAQs:
Will Georgia legalize sports gambling?
Senators have filed legislation that would legalize online sports betting in Georgia. The goal is to expand gambling through the state lottery system without requiring a constitutional amendment.
Is DraftKings legal in Georgia?
DraftKings DFS is allowed to be played in Georgia as it is considered a game of skill.
How much money was gambled illegally in Georgia in 2019?
It’s estimated that $1.5 billion was wagered illegally in Georgia in 2019.