Georgia's Failure to Legalize Sports Betting is Becoming North Carolina's Gain

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Sep 7, 2022 08:00 PM
Georgia's Failure to Legalize Sports Betting is Becoming North Carolina's Gain

Are you among those who think that government officials from The Peach State need a kick in the pants to more commonly support legalize sports betting in Georgia? If so, you're in luck. They're about to get one. And it isn't going to be pretty.

A new, wildly accessible form of sports betting is coming to North Carolina. And in doing so, the folks of N.C. are providing a legal gambling outlet for Georgians who feel slighted by their state's repeated refusals to join the sports wagering ranks.

We understand if this sounds weird and ambiguous. But believe us, the push to legalize sports betting throughout Georgia is about to be intertwined with the fate of sports betting in North Carolina. And many of Georgia's politicians know it.

So, let's go ahead and break down what it all means.

Did North Carolina Legalize Sports Betting to Capitalize on Georgia's Clientele?

Earlier this month, North Carolina's Catawba Two Kings Casino was given the okay to set up 30 kiosks throughout the building that allow customers to place online sports bets while on-site. They join Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River as the only casinos in North Carolina with the capacity to accept sports bets.

Executives associated with all three casinos have high hopes for the newly installed kiosks. As Orlando Jordan, a cage director at Harrah's told Spectrum News 1 recently: "Sports betting is going to actually appeal to a new market here in North Carolina. In Kings Mountain, Gaston County and Cleveland County as well." He also noted that many of the casino's patrons started inquiring about when the sports betting kiosks would officially open months before they actually did.

This move was portrayed by the state as a test run for whether they should legalize sports betting online throughout the state at a later date. The timing of their decision, meanwhile, has been painted as an attempt to capitalize on the rush to bet NCAA football and bet on the NFL in advance of the 2022 regular seasons.

Without a doubt, this is all true. But it's also no coincidence that North Carolina's rollout of dozens upon dozens of sports betting kiosks coincides with Georgia's most recent failure to pass SB 142, their latest pro-gambling initiative, through the House of Representatives. North Carolina is the closest neighbor to Georgia—and well within driving distance for many Georgians. There is a belief among state officials throughout Georgia that North Carolina frantically approved the addition of sports betting kiosks in hopes of enticing not only their own residents, but citizens from The Peach State.

And guess what? This theory might prove accurate. Reporters on-site have already tweeted about how many out-of-state bettors have traveled to North Carolina to place bets on one of the many kiosks in place. 

Will North Carolina Actually Put Pressure on Georgia to Legalize Sports Betting?

Whether North Carolina sports betting kiosks will pressure Georgia to legalize sports betting at their next opportunity remains to be seen. But it certainly matters.

Yes, officials in Georgia already knew residents were betting on sports. Simply making it illegal doesn't prevent it from happening. Georgians cannot only cross state lines and place wagers in North Carolina, but they also have the option of joining a site from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, almost all of which permit you to submit bets regardless of where you live in the United States.

Still, there is something more tangible, more real, about one of your direct neighbors poaching business that could be yours. Georgia will never be able to put an exact number on how much money they're failing to make, but people who live in states without sports gambling spend an estimated billion-plus dollars on out-of-state or illegal sports betting every year. 

Indeed, it's one thing to know Georgians are placing sports bets online with off-shore bookies. It's another thing entirely to actually see that money walk out the door as you see North Carolina's tax revenue projections mushroom.

When, If Ever, Will Sports Betting Come to Georgia

This is a question we've attempted to answer on a number of occasions without much confidence. It was widely expected the latest Georgia sports betting bill would get more support at the most recent legislature session, if not actually pass. Its failure to even register as a primary topic of discussion left us confused and, frankly, pessimistic.

But North Carolina's introduction of sports betting kiosks should at least create a little more urgency within Georgia to reassess their stance. This rings especially true knowing more and more officials have called for The Peach State to legalize sports betting posthaste. Most notably, Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor in the 2022 elections came out and called the absence of Georgia sports betting a hugely missed opportunity. What's more, her standing in Georgia's polls swung by a little over two points after those comments—suggesting what we already knew based on other polls: a majority of the people in Georgia think it's time to legalize sports betting.

At the risk of sounding like a Debbie Downer, though, we must highlight one hiccup: The timeline for sports betting in Georgia isn't particularly encouraging. Realistically, they won't have the opportunity to put a pro-gambling initiative on an election ballot until 2024, which means the soonest they can roll out sports betting would be later that year or in early 2025.

Nevertheless, Georgians can find solace in what North Carolina is doing. At the very least, N.C. is about to force Georgia officials to finally have a longer discussion on the legalization of sports betting at the next legislature session.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting news:

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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