Is Support for Georgia Sports Betting on the Decline?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 8, 2023 12:00 AM
Support for Georgia sports betting may be on the decline.

On the heels of yet another failed Georgia sports betting bill, experts and news outlets are attempting to pinpoint what exactly went wrong—not just this year, but in general.

For so long, the assumption was that a lack of alignment throughout the House of Representatives and Senate derailed Georgia sports betting initiatives. To some extent, this is true. There were a bunch of issues that surfaced during this process among state officials.

And yet, a recent poll shows that Georgians may not support the legalization of sports betting as much as they once did. 

To what end this impacted the two bills that failed to pass during the latest round of legislative meetings remains to be seen. But if interest in legal gambling is indeed waning among constituents, it could spell further delays for sports betting in Georgia.

Recent Poll Shows Voters Aren't as Hot for Georgia Sports Betting as Expected

Back in 2020, the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs conducted a poll in which they asked nearly 1,000  voters whether the state should legalize sports betting. At that time, 57 percent of Georgia voters favored some form of legal sports gambling.

However, another poll has now been conducted for this year. And the tenor of responses has appreciably changed. According to the latest poll, just 48 percent of those who responded were in favor of legal sports gambling. That represents a nearly 10 percent decrease from the last survey, and it suggests general sentiment towards Georgia sports betting is on the downswing.

Granted, these polls cannot necessarily be taken as gospel. The 2023 Georgia poll included 860 respondents.  That's not anywhere near representative of the entire voting population.

Still, authors of these surveys account for discrepancies by calculating potential margin for error. The margin for error on the 2023 sports gambling poll checked in at 3.3 points. So, even if the responses skew a little too pessimistic, there seems to be a pretty good chance that less than half of all voters currently aren't on board with sports betting in The Peach State.

Why Has the Sentiment Toward Georgia Sports Gambling Changed So Much Among Prospective Voters?

Among those who offered expanded reasoning for their responses in this Georgia sports betting survey, two overarching points stand out above all else. The first is a general feeling of fatigue. Sports betting has been a hot topic in Georgia for the better part of a decade. Ever since the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act back in 2018, Georgia has been among the states repeatedly attempting to push through new legislation.

Voters, of course, aren't direct participants in the discussion. But they are exposed to it, in some form, every time the state legislature meets. The constant discussion and debate can grate on people. We just saw the same thing happen with sports betting in California this past year. After being considered locks to green light sports gambling, voters rejected two separate bills because they viewed incessant campaigning, counter-campaigning and overall discussion has disinformation.

Georgia did nothing to help assuage fatigue among the voting population in 2023. Two sports betting bills were introduced. Each had separate aims. Both also underwent last-minute addendums. The end result was a complete and utter lack of consensus. Neither Georgia sports betting initiative ever made it close to the final phase. 

If The Peach State wants to seriously improve the odds that next year's wagering debate reaches advanced stages, they may need to focus on uniform visions. Multiple studies have shown that officials and the voters they represent are more likely to support constitutional change if there's one singular bill to evaluate. Introducing a second creates division, even if it's unintentionally.

Survey respondents also pointed to concerns over how sports gambling revenue would be spent. Many voters indicated they wouldsupport allowing sports betting in Georgia if the money is going to be spent in a good way, such as for education programs like the HOPE scholarship or for needs-based scholarships,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Division Over Sports Betting Terms Still Remains Georgia's Biggest Hurdle

While voter sentiment absolutely matters, Georgia needs the discussion among their policymakers to improve more than anything. No singular issues derailed this year's sports gambling initiatives; it was a collection of various obstacles. But the form of legalization proved to be one of the larger sticking points.

One of the Georgia sports betting bills would have legalized only on-site gambling. The other would have allowed residents to bet with the top online sportsbooks in the United States. It isn't clear which side had more traction. Both clearly lacked enough support to successfully advance their agendas.

On top of all that, certain lawmakers proposed addendums to the on-site betting legislature that would have eliminated the need for a constitutional amendment. Right now, most changes to The Peach State's gaming laws would require voters to weigh in during a general election. Some officials were trying to avoid that. Removing the need for a constitutional amendment would expedite the process. It would also knee-cap online sports betting legislature. There's virtually no way to legalize mobile wagering without putting the matter to a general election vote.

Where does Georgia sports betting stand given all of this information? That is absolutely the question everyone's trying to answer. And right now, there's no avoiding the more pessimistic conclusions. Without a significant shift in both voter sentiment and governmental alignment, Georgia legal sports betting could remain years away.

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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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