State Lawmakers Preparing to Vote on 2024 Georgia Sports Betting Bill

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 24, 2024 08:00 PM
State Lawmakers Preparing to Vote on 2024 Georgia Sports Betting Bill

If Georgia sports betting is legalized in 2024, it may be the opportunities presented through betting on March Madness that drives the current initiative home.

To be sure, betting on March Madness in 2024 is not and will not be a legal option for residents of The Peach State. The 2024 NCAA basketball tournament is already underway, and lawmakers have yet to vote on the latest Georgia sports betting bill

Yes, this vote will be taking place soon. And it could pass. Even then, there won’t be nearly enough time for sports betting in Georgia to launch this year. 

For starters, the legalization of sports gambling in The Peach State will most likely require approval from state residents. The next general election will take place in November 2024. Georgia isn’t calling for a special ballot before then. And even if they did, there’s no guarantee the top online sportsbooks in the United States would receive licenses or be up and running before 2025. 

Expediency, in this case, would entail lawmakers ensuring Georgia sports betting is legalized and launched by March Madness 2025.

Lawmakers are Weighing Potential Georgia Sports Betting Revenue When March Madness Comes to The Peach State

This focus on the 2025 March Madness betting in Georgia may seem arbitrary—even random. It’s not. 

State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia is currently scheduled to host at least a couple of March Madness 2025 games. The financial boon that could befall The Peach State if they have sportsbooks in Georgia open for that occasion is beyond massive. College basketball betting is already popular inside the state. And that’s without legal Georgia sports betting. The ability to tax what’s already taking place while making it more accessible will prove to be lucrative.

Not surprisingly, this sentiment is taking hold among policymakers in 2024. Consider this excerpt from a recent piece by Larry Spruill of WSB-TV in Atlanta: 

“Many would like to legally bet on those [Georgia March Madness] games, but first, our lawmakers have to vote on that. ‘At a 20 percent tax rate, they’re estimating over $100 million in revenue for the state to be used for education,’ said Kash Trivedi. It’s a huge debate going on right now inside the State Capitol. 

Republican State Senator Clint Dixon said Senate Bill 386 would legalize betting and tax it. ‘It would be on your device on your phone. It would be an app based on a way most people would use it. They can place those bets on that app. Simply what it does is that it creates 16 licenses. Seven of them are untethered so they would need to just put out for competitive bid. The other nine, one of them would go to the Georgia Lottery in the original bill the way it’s set up.’ 

Also notable: The other eight Georgia sports betting licenses would go to the state’s professional sports teams.

Does Georgia Have the Support Necessary to Legalize Sports Betting? 

Really, this reinforces a lot of what we already knew. Georgia is a potential top 10 sports betting market in the United States. That means they could rake in nine figures’ worth of sports betting tax revenue on an annual basis.

These projections alone make you wonder why the state hasn’t already cannonballed into sports gambling. Especially as legal sports betting has launched in surrounding states like North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida.

Still, opponents of Georgia sports betting continue to express concern about its moral hazards. Legal sports gambling comes with an uptick in problem gambling. That trend, it seems, comes back to access and predatory advertising practices. Online sports betting bonuses often attract recurring customers who lose the most

Every state has grappled with this issue. None of them have been fixed. It’s likely unsolvable to boot. You cannot perfectly regulate everything

But some states have taken strides to try keeping the moral trade-off in check. Options for this include harsh punishments for sportsbooks who violate state laws, funds dedicated to establishing programs that educate consumers on the dangers of sports gambling and policies that restrict online sportsbook bonuses and promotions, among other things.

Could Educational Funds Hold the Key to Sports Betting in Georgia?

While March Madness 2025 betting potential is currently fueling Georgia sports gambling discussions, it may not be the incentive that inflates support. That honor belongs to the state’s educational system.

At least, that’s what Georgia sports betting proponents are banking on.

The Peach State’s current sports gambling initiative calls for roughly 80 percent of Georgia sports betting revenue to be allocated to improving educational systems. Similarly large shares have swayed sports gambling votes in other states. It isn’t yet clear whether the same will hold true for Georgia.

Something that could be a game-changer: Ensuring revenue is used to inform underage Georgians about the risks of sports betting. Right now, minors who watch sporting events or spend any time on the internet are subjected to an onslaught of sports betting promotions. It’s all too easy for them to access sportsbooks in the United States or outside the United States and develop bad habits. Creating programs that educate them early would, in theory, help them maintain a healthy relationship (or distance) to legal sports gambling.

So what will become of the 2024 Georgia sports betting push? We’ll know soon enough. But if this year’s attempt succeeds, it will be thanks in part to the prospect of 2025 March Madness as well as policymakers’ decision to direct revenue toward the state’s education system.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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