Georgia – On Tuesday, a group of lawmakers in Georgia’s state Senate gave the green light to a new law that makes betting on sports legal. This decision came through Senate Bill 386, which was passed by the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee with a vote of 8-2. According to this bill, the Georgia Lottery Corp. will be in charge of giving out 16 permits to companies that want to run sports betting services.
Who is getting sports betting license?
Out of these, five permits are set aside for the professional sports teams in Atlanta, which include the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Dream, and Atlanta United. Additionally, three special places – the Augusta National Golf Club, the Professional Golf Association (PGA), and the Atlanta Motor Speedway – will each get one permit.
There are also seven permits available for other sports betting companies that want to enter the market. These companies can apply for a permit, and the Georgia Lottery officials will oversee this process. The lottery itself will also get one of these permits.
The money made from sports betting, specifically 20% of the profits after expenses, will be used to support two important education programs in Georgia: the HOPE Scholarships and pre-kindergarten education.
This will won’t require state’s constitution changes
This bill is special because it allows sports betting to become legal without needing to change the state’s constitution. However, the question of whether or not it’s okay to introduce sports betting in this way, without altering the constitution, has been a hot topic of debate among Georgia’s lawmakers for quite a while.
In the first week of this year’s session, another plan related to sports betting was discussed. This one, different from the first, would need a change in the constitution to be allowed. The Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee took a look at this proposal.
On Monday, people from the MTA and PrizePicks, which is a company that deals with daily fantasy sports, came forward to support this bill.
Nick Fernandez, who works on government relations for the chamber, mentioned that this bill could bring in around $100 million every year for educational programs like HOPE and pre-kindergarten.
Stuart Wilkinson from PrizePicks shared with the committee that including fantasy sports could potentially add an extra $35 million to the total.
However, representatives from religious organizations expressed their concerns and did not support the bill.
“Gambling is basically legalized fraud,” said Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. “You can’t win. The industry can’t lose.”
“The disastrous effects of problem gambling are well known and well documented,” added Mack Parnell, executive director of the Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Members from both parties in Georgia support the bill
Sen. Clint Dixon, who is leading the charge on this bill, highlighted that it contains specific steps to help avoid gambling issues. It plans to educate people in Georgia about the dangers of sports betting through advertisements and offers tools that allow individuals to set limits on how much they can spend on betting.
The bill is supported by members from both political parties, with Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler being one of the bill’s supporters.
Next, the bill will be reviewed by the Senate Rules Committee, which will determine if it should be presented to the entire Senate for a vote.