Prospects of Georgia Sports Betting in 2024 Remain Bleak

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jan 11, 2024 12:00 AM
Georgia sports betting is expected to be on the table for discussion in 2024, but most aren’t holding their breath for much progress.

Many have long held out hope that 2024 could be the year Georgia sports betting gets legalized. Well, we have bad news for those people.

It turns out the legalization of sports betting in Georgia remains a long shot in the immediate future.

This sentiment is pretty consistent with what’s been said and written since last year. However, optimism started mounting in December 2023, when it was announced Georgia sports betting would once again be on the table during the 2024 legislature sessions. But the state legislature convened officially on Tuesday, January 9. In the immediate aftermath of the opening bell, reports have started surfacing that paint Georgia sports betting odds in a bleak light.

To be sure, this latest “development” isn’t necessarily an end-all, be-all. The state legislature hasn’t even been in session for 72 hours at this writing. It’s doubtful any meaningful discussions about sports betting in The Peach State have taken place. 

Even if they have, there is still plenty of time for tides to turn. The 2024 Georgia legislature meetings aren’t scheduled to adjourn until March 28, 2024. That’s more than two months from now. 

Still, sports betting initiatives have faced an uphill year after year in The Peach State. Optimism has crescendoed in sessions past only to flatline by the end. If officials don’t see it happening at the start of the sessions, there’s a good chance Georgia sports betting will once again fall by the wayside. But why is it facing so much resistance or disinterest? Can anything be done to change that? What’s the timeline for sports gambling in Georgia if nothing happens this year?

Questions abound. And abound. And abound. Let’s try to parse the latest Georgia sports betting news for some much-needed answers—and the clarity that comes with them.

Senate Committee Approved 2024 Georgia Sports Betting Bill, But Expectations Remain Curtailed 

Fortunately for gambling enthusiasts, the Georgia sports betting outlook isn’t all doom and gloom. A Senate Committee voted on January 9 to move forward with a sports wagering bill. That’s the good news. The bad news? It’s not clear whether this means something or is simply a formality. Here’s the Associated Press’ newswire with more details (courtesy of ABC 9 in Georgia):

“The Senate Regulated Industries voted 8-4 to advance Senate Bill 172, which would legalize, regulate and tax sports betting in Georgia, sending it to the full Senate for more debate. But the measure requires a state constitutional amendment to take effect. That needs two-thirds of both the House and Senate before it could go to voters for approval in a statewide referendum. The measure's sponsor, Athens Republican Bill Cowsert, argued again Tuesday that an amendment is needed because when Georgia voters approved a lottery in 1992, sports bets could only be placed in person in a Nevada casino. Vermont on Thursday will become the 38th state nationwide to allow sports betting. Some states allow only in-person bets, although most allow electronic betting from anywhere.”

State amendments are not uncommon when it comes to the legalization of online sports betting in the United States. And they’re not particularly inconvenient either—unless members of congress who support it believe voters will reject any approved initiatives.

To that end, it’s not entirely clear how Georgia voters would feel about sports betting. However, a 2023 poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution found that support among those surveyed actually favored legal sports betting.

Assuming those results are accurate, generating enough support in the House and Senate is the bigger issue. 

Georgia Sports Teams and Certain Policymakers Continue to Argue a Constitutional Amendment Isn’t Necessary for Sports Betting

More specifically, support in the Senate is critical to the 2024 Georgia sports betting push. A majority of House members have previously approved of sports betting legislation. The Senate has shown more resistance. 

That’s no surprise. Many of its members skew more conservative than inside the House. That political demographic tends to oppose legal sports betting on moral, letter-to-the-law, logistical or even religious grounds. 

This is why The Peach State’s pro sports teams, in tandem with select policymakers, continue to argue that sports betting in Georgia doesn’t require a constitutional amendment. These parties believe that the Georgia state lottery can regulate it independently, negating the need for the constitutional amendment. 

If this stance is successful, it changes…everything. Not only would a Georgia sports gambling initiative not need to appear on a general election ballot, but the threshold for approval in the House and Senate would be lower. In essence, there would be a much better chance that Georgia sports betting gets legalized in 2024 if a constitutional amendment is deemed unnecessary.

But don’t get too excited. This viewpoint is widely opposed inside both the House and Senate. A Georgia sports betting proposal in 2023 that would not have required a constitutional amendment flopped. The belief is that the same thing will happen this year. That puts pressure on the bill to receive the vast majority of support (two-thirds’ worth) from the House and Senate.

Timeline for Georgia Sports Gambling Remains Murky…at Best

As it stands, the odds of a 2024 Georgia sports betting bill making it on to the general election ballot remain slim to none. If that changes, we could see live Georgia sports betting take effect sometime in 2024. 

It’s a different story altogether if nothing changes.

The next general election after 2024 will be in 2026. In the event Georgia approves a sports betting bill by then, they would be looking at a 2027 launch date. And if they still don’t have a bill on the ballot in 2026, it could be 2029 or 2030 before legal Georgia sports betting becomes a reality.

That is…extremely far off. Granted, it’s also an unofficial timeline. But it might also be the likeliest time. In fact, as of right now, if sports betting comes to Georgia before 2027, we’d be downright shocked. 

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Maybe the no-amendment route gains traction. Or perhaps both the House and Senate are on board with the latest sports betting legislation. We’ll know for sure before the start of spring—one way or another.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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