Georgia Sports Betting Discussion May Resurface After Atlanta Hawks Win 2024 NBA Draft Lottery

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Georgia Sports Betting Discussion May Resurface After Atlanta Hawks Win 2024 NBA Draft Lottery

Right around the time it became clear why the latest Georgia sports betting legalization attempt failed, the Atlanta Hawks won the 2024 NBA draft lottery—despite having just a 3 percent in doing so. By securing the No. 1 overall pick, they will now shape how one of the widest-open drafts in recent memory unfolds. 

True to form, the betting lines for the 2024 NBA draft are all over the place when it comes to predicting who will go No. 1. Alex Sarr (-180) is currently the betting favorite at BetOnline, but his odds are close to even money and have shifted a great deal ever since Atlanta won the first overall selection. Meanwhile, experts believe that Zaccharie Risacher (+160), Donovan Clingan (+1200) and even Reed Sheppard (+3000) all have legitimate shots at going with the top spot.

Regardless, having an Atlanta sports team with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft would be a big deal for sports betting in Georgia—if it were legal, which it still is not. And it’s an event and situation like this that underscores why certain policymakers continue to push for legalized sports gambling in the Peach State.

Sure, every type of competition matters. That’s especially true when it comes to betting on NFL futures, NBA futures, NHL futures, MLB futures, etc. But prop betting has skyrocketed in recent years, particularly at the top online sportsbooks in the United States. In fact, those wagers can be more frequent than even single-game lines, because bettors are more inclined to parlay them or submit multiple prop betting tickets. And it’s this type wagering that officials paid special attention to during the latest round of debates.

Why Some Officials Remain Frustrated That Georgia Sports Betting 

Financial interests of course drive the discussion on Georgia sports betting. There are many who believe the Peach State would be a top-five sports betting market in the United Stats, right up there with New York sports betting and Ohio sports betting and, eventually, Texas sports betting and California sports betting. 

But as state representative Marcus Wiedower told FOX 5’s Deirda Dukes, at least some of the frustration comes down to the fact that, despite it being illegal, Georgia sports betting continues to happen. Here are his thoughts on the matter:

“They're placing bets on their phone, whether that's, you know, Falcons to win by 12 or whatever the bet may be, but they're placing those bets right now, in the illegal market," Wiedower explained. "We're simply trying to get that into the legal market where we're capturing those tax dollars offering more money to go to education, as well as protections around the people that are engaging in this right now." 

These concerns are fair—and valid. Similar slants, on top of the tax revenue potential, have compelled 38 of the 50 states to legalize some form of sports betting. 

Of course, a regulated sports betting market in the United States is entirely safe. There are multiple polls that have shown problem gambling reports increase when states introduce legal sports betting. As such, there’s a real discussion to be had about the risks associated with increased sports betting accessibility. 

Sports Betting Remains Accessible Even Where It’s Not Legal Yet

As part of this discussion, though, we must also acknowledge that sports betting remains accessible even in areas where it’s not legal. Usage is obviously curtailed, because fewer people will take the extra steps to place wagers. But the rise of prop betting, in particular, appeals to a wide audience—the legality of gambling in the region be darned.

This is especially true around tentpole events. That includes the 2024 NBA draft. Georgians would always have a special interest in the outcome, since the hometown teams were in the lottery. But now that the Hawks have the No. 1 pick, we should expect 2024 NBA draft prop bets to increase tenfold.

On some level, this is a prediction. Yet, it’s rooted in pre-existing trends. 

Take Super Bowl betting as an example. According to the American Gaming Association (via CNN),   “Americans bet $10.49 billion on sports [during the month of February], a 24.8 percent year-over-year increase” from that same time period in 2023. 

That is a monstrous increase. And while betting on the 2024 NBA draft in Georgia won’t be nearly as lucrative, wagering trends across the country reiterate just how popular online sports betting in the United States— and prob betting online in the USA—have become around these major events.

Where Will the Sports Gambling Debate in the Peach State Go From Here?

We will not pretend that the Atlanta Hawks having the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA draft is about to shift the entire Georgia sports betting discourse. It is, however, yet another spotlight being cast onto squandered revenue and, equally important, an unregulated market. 

Does this mean the 2024 NBA draft will be a front-and-center example when the Georgia state legislature reconvenes? Not necessarily. But just like betting on the Super Bowl or betting on the World Series or betting on the NBA Finals, it will rank among the state’s missed opportunities. 

Whether that begets policy change long term remains to be seen. Interest in Georgia sports betting is clearly high, both among officials and constituents. But the repeated failed attempts do paint a tenuous picture.

 Lawmakers continue to haggle over issues such as tax rate, whether to license online sportsbooks in Georgia, revenue allocations and moral obligations. All of which raises a pivotal question: Can the state’s elected officials ever find common ground? Or make the compromises necessary to let voters decide during a general election? The popularity of sports betting in the United States suggests they can. Whether that happy medium will be reached anytime soon is a different matter altogether.

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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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