Are the Latest Georgia Sports Betting Bills Destined to Fail in 2024?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Feb 28, 2024 07:00 PM
Are the Latest Georgia Sports Betting Bills Destined to Fail in 2024?

Optimism surrounding the latest Georgia sports betting bill is officially on the decline. 

Talk about your 180-degree turns. The Senate thoroughly approved a Georgia sports betting initiative at the start of February. Their swift and decisive action suggested this would be the year a piece of gambling legislation became law. 

Fast forward less than one month, though, and everything has reportedly changed. And that might even be an understatement. Some are going as far as to say that the push to legalize sports betting in Georgia is essentially already dead.

So, what exactly happened to dramatically turn the tide? Let’s explore the latest.

Georgia Sports Betting Bill Could Flop Amid Daily Fantasy Sports Addendum

While the 2024 Georgia sports betting proposal made it through the Senate with ease, it still needs majority approval from the House of Representatives. This order of operations is often reversed. But when the Senate approves a bill, it’s often considered a good sign. 

The Georgia sports gambling initiative initially didn’t look like it’d be an exception. Over the past few weeks, though, the measure has reached a standstill as political parties haggle over various issues. 

A last-minute push to include daily fantasy sports language is among the hangups. States across the country have started cracking down on DFS operators existing under separate umbrellas. Many have forced DFS companies to exit markets altogether. The Georgia sports betting addendum, however, seeks to include them under the new law.

This sentiment has received widespread resistance among policymakers. What’s more, it’s not the only issue serving as a barrier to approval. Disagreements across other social and economic platforms are also fueling the gridlock. 

Lack of Alignment on Other Issues is Threatening to Derail Georgia Sports Betting Legislation

Though the Georgia state legislature has time to find common ground on other topics, the sheer number of polarizing disagreements is starting to mount. Pat Evans broke it all down for Legal Sports Report:

“In previous years, Georgia sports betting bills died amid Republicans and Democrats disagreeing over weightier issues. Sports betting needs bipartisan support, as there are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle against the issue. Last week, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus called for a reparations study commission. That was met with Republican opposition shortly after Democrats were irked by Republican House leadership, which essentially killed a Medicaid expansion. ‘Similar to recent years, it’s looking like this might get held hostage,’ a source said. “But maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised.” The Senate bill started with strong bipartisan support, but an industry source said that does not mean the same agreement is present in the House.”

Essentially, if the Georgia sports betting bill fails in 2024, it may not actually be reflective of the state’s sentiments on gambling. Instead, it looks like one (or both) political parties will use the wagering initiative as leverage to advance or derail other issues. 

This type of division, while not beyond resolution, is never a good sign. On the contrary, previous pushes to legalize Georgia sports betting have flopped under similar circumstances. 

Right now, it almost seems like officials are bracing for this year to unfold in the same manner. And it’s getting increasingly difficult to blame them. After all, the clock is ticking. The Georgia state legislature is scheduled to adjourn at the end of March. That gives lawmakers roughly one month to flip the current script.

The Prospect of a Constitutional Amendment is Also Hampering Georgia Sports Betting Efforts

Because the 2024 Georgia sports betting initiative isn’t facing enough obstacles, apparently, yet another issue recently bubbled to the surface. 

When the Senate first approved SB 386, the measure was expected to require a constitutional amendment. This is likely because the bill allowed online sportsbooks in the United States to compete for operational licenses inside the Georgia market. 

As many already know, a constitutional amendment requires an appearance on an electoral ballot for state residents to vote on. That’s not considered a huge obstacle in Georgia’s case. Various polls have shown that a large portion of the population supports some form of legal sports gambling. However, a constitutional amendment also requires two-thirds approval from the House of Representatives. As Democrats and Republicans diverge on other issues, receiving that many votes is no longer considered a lock.

In the past, others have tried advocating for legal Georgia sports betting without requiring a constitutional amendment. These attempts are met with mostly opposition. No Georgia sports betting legislation along these lines has ever made it very far into the approval process. 

Since The Peach State seems resolved to require a to legalize sports betting this way, it is no longer about the Democrats and Republicans hammering out some of their disagreements. They may need to find a middle ground on all of them. If they don’t, even a single issue could prompt one side to withhold the necessary support for SB 386.

So, which way will the winds blow? We wouldn’t dare offer a prediction given how all of this has unfolded and continues to unfold. But for now, it sure seems like Georgia sports betting efforts in 2024 are on life support.

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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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