There will be No Legalization of Georgia Sports Betting in 2024

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 13, 2024 08:00 PM
There will be No Legalization of Georgia Sports Betting in 2024

Another attempt to legalize Georgia sports betting has officially failed.

The state legislature adjourned for the year without coming to an agreement on one of the sports gambling proposals set before them. Some will be inclined to paint the stalemate as progress. After all, a bill that would have legalized sports betting in Georgia made it through the House of Representatives. And it didn’t technically get shot down in the Senate. It just wasn’t ever voted upon.

Whether this counts as “progress” is debatable. The Peach State clearly has interest in bringing sports gambling to the region. At large, they even showed a larger appetite for allowing top online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market. Previously, there had been a push to legalize only on-site sports betting.

Still, measurable progress requires steps forward on key issues. The Georgia state legislature did not necessarily oversee much of that. Though sports gambling in the Peach State has plenty of bi-partisan support, the governing body remains split on a number of issues after years of discussing them. 

So, what exactly are the biggest roadblocks that impede the legalization of Georgia sports betting? Let's dig through the latest reports to find out. And let’s face it, this is an important endeavor. These issues are going to remain at the fore of the sports gambling discussion the next time the legislature convenes.

Should Georgia Sports Betting Require a Constitutional Amendment?

For most states, the legalization of sports betting demands a constitutional amendment. This means that in addition to two-thirds majority support from the House and Senate, they must also get voter approval during one of the general elections. The next general election in Georgia will take place during November 2024. So if the state had approved a sports betting bill, it would have been set before voters then.

However, there continues to be an internal debate over whether Georgians should have the final say on sports betting in the Peach State. As Sports Handle’s Bennett Conlin writes: 

“Among the hot debate topics in the Georgia General Assembly is the need for a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting. Sen. Bill Cowsert, who holds significant sway when it comes to sports wagering legislation, is among the lawmakers who feel a constitutional amendment is needed to expand gambling in Georgia. ‘I think it’s the politically appropriate thing to do when we make this type of major policy shift in our state,’ Cowsert said during a hearing. ‘This is to give voters the opportunity to speak on the issue.’ Other legislators believe sports betting could be legalized as a lottery game, circumventing the need for a constitutional amendment.”

The idea that Georgia sports betting may not need a constitutional amendment started gaining steam during the last round of legislative sessions. As a concept, it appealed to sports gambling supporters because it is more difficult to pass a constitutional amendment. Mainly, it does not require two-thirds support from both legislative chambers.

Official Support for Sports Gambling in the Peach State May Still be Lacking

The fact that the method by which Georgia sports betting should be legalized is still an issue speaks volumes. And the problem is a prospective fear of voter approval. Multiple polls over the years have shown many Georgians would support some form of sports betting and gambling expansion.

Instead, it seems as if legislator support is the bigger concern. More specifically, it appears Georgia sports betting measures need more advocates in the Senate. 

Sports gambling proposals have already cleared the House with more than two-thirds approval. Pretty much every hangup, both now and in the past, has bubbled to the surface in the Senate.

This explains why the constitutional amendment discussion is such a holdup. It isn’t that sports betting advocates fear voter approval. It’s that they don’t believe a Georgia sports gambling initiative has the internal support to even get that far into the process.

Projected Tax Revenue Also Derailed Georgia Sports Betting Talks 

While a dearth of Senate support is by far the largest issue, it certainly doesn’t help matters that legislators remain split on a number of other critical factors. Chief among them: projected tax revenue.

According to Conlin, experts have believed online sports betting in Georgia would generate anywhere between $50 million and $100 million in additional tax revenue each year. That’s a lot of money. It’s certainly enough money to sway other states. But Georgia isn’t one of them.

Key stakeholders apparently believe sports betting revenue forecasts are just a “drop in the bucket” relative to the state’s annual earnings and budget. Though this is true, sports betting supporters have pointed out that it still represents extra money the state can allocate to educational programs, departmental budgets and, of course, problem gambling services

This stance didn’t move enough people in the end. And it raises an interesting question: If future calculations yield higher Georgia online sports betting projections, would there be more support behind it? Or is this less about the money and more about the moral opposition a still-conservative Senate has to gambling in general?

Perhaps this question will be answered the next time legislators meet to discuss the future of Georgia sports betting. In the meantime, supporters must continue lying in indefinite wait. Because as things currently stand, it’s impossible to determine when Georgia sports betting might actually be legalized.

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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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