Will Georgia Sports Betting Need a Lower Tax Rate to Eventually Pass?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 14, 2023 12:00 AM
Will Georgia sports betting require a lower tax rate?

By now, mostly everyone probably knows that the 2023 Georgia sports betting bill flopped during this year's round of legislature meetings. Yet, while this happened weeks ago, the fallout from the latest botched attempt at legal gambling continues to unfold.

Most notably, in the aftermath of two initiatives (SR 135 and SB 142) never reaching the Senate floor, sports betting supporters are left to ponder different variations of the same question: What's next?

What needs to happen for sports betting in Georgia to finally be legalized? What, exactly, is holding back the push for state-allowed gambling? Is it a partisan roadblock? Do certain lawmakers simply believe it's not worth the trouble? Is legal sports betting considered too much of socioeconomic risk for state officials? Are there merely more pressing priorities on the table? Is Georgia facing too much tribal opposition to certain terms? Are they juggling unrealistic asks and aims from retail sportsbooks? Could there be something in the fine print preventing The Peach State from generating more traction on numerous sports betting bills?

Truthfully, there is no singular pitfall responsible for the fuzzy timeline and continued inconsistent support for Georgia sports betting. A plethora of wrinkles and warts have surfaced at every turn. These problems range from minor to monstrous. And though these disagreements haven't prevented progress in certain stages in dialogue, they have left the state with much to ponder before the legal sports betting debate resumes all over again in 2024.

Among the most pressing topics to consider is the Georgia sports betting tax rate. Most proposals over the years have included a rather aggressive number relative to the national average. Could this be part of the reason why the state has yet to push legal gambling across the finish line?

What Was the Most Recently Proposed Georgia Sports Betting Tax Rate?

Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered with an exact number. Georgia was juggling two different sports betting initiatives at the start of this year, and each of them included different tax-rate bands.

Still, as Mark Zinno from 92.9 The Game in Atlanta recently noted, the state's tax rates have typically hovered around 24 percent. To be sure, this is not unheard of territory. Delaware sports betting assesses a 50 percent tax rate, for both retail and online sportsbooks. Rhode Island charges even more, with a 51 percent tax rate across the board. Online sports betting in New York assesses a 51 percent tax rate, as well. Pennsylvania sports betting taxes, meanwhile, check in at 36 percent for retail bookies and mobile betting sites.

Granted, this only makes Georgia's preferred rate seem slightly less ambitious. Their 24 percent tax would still rank among the five highest in the country. It's tough to tell whether they have the leverage to command that much.

Is the Georgia Sports Betting Market Appealing Enough to Charge Steep Tax Rates?

Aggressive tax rates work out perfectly fine in select markets. New York, for instance, is a behemoth. They can effectively charge whatever they want. Georgia isn't The Empire State. They also aren't Delaware or Pennsylvania, two states with similarly sized or smaller populations. In their case, though, Delaware and Pennsylvania serve as betting hubs for a variety of markets. Delaware caters to sports fans from the Maryland, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Pennsylvania and even New York areas. Pennsylvania itself largely does the same, and they also have franchises across all major North American sports leagues. 

Georgia isn't necessarily a tri-state betting market. That could suggest their 24 percent tax rate is too aggressive—especially if it's the same across the board for both brick-and-mortar operations and online betting sites.

At the same time, the general population suggests The Peach State isn't overreaching. Georgia currently has the eighth largest population in the United States, according to World Population review. And given how many sports teams they house across all major sports leagues, they easily also rank as a top-eight betting market.

That should, in turn, give them the license to assess loftier online sports betting taxes. Fees for tribal operations get dicier, but Georgia can always follow in the footsteps of New York. The Empire State charges a 10 percent tax to retail locations, according to Betting USA—a far cry from the 51 percent rate assessed to online betting sites.

It isn't Clear Whether Sports Betting Taxes are Among the State's Biggest Issues

Though Georgia sports betting tax rates have garnered plenty of discussion, these debates typically haven't tilted toward contentious. Other issues have engendered more impassioned responses, such as the decision of whether to legalize both in-person gambling and online sports betting or just the former.

Some have wondered whether Georgia might receive blowback from online betting sites themselves. Would they agree to pay a 24 percent tax rate? In our estimation, they probably would.

The Georgia online sports betting market is already perceived to be an untapped goldmine. Residents have taken their business to other states or even abroad, where they can find some of the best and most highly reviewed online sportsbooks in the industry. This is a market just waiting to be mined for profit.

Will Georgia warm up to legal sports betting by 2024? It's tough to say. If proposed gambling taxes were the only curveball, we could easily envision the state changing its tune. At the moment, however, it's clear that Georgia sports betting taxes are just one obstacle in a line of many.

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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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