BREAKING: Senate Approves 2024 Georgia Sports Betting Bill for State Residents to Vote On

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Feb 12, 2024 07:00 PM
BREAKING: Senate Approves 2024 Georgia Sports Betting Bill for State Residents to Vote On

It looks like the future of Georgia sports betting will now be in the hands of voters during the 2024 general elections.

We don’t blame you if you’re skeptical. The Peach State has a very stop-and-start relationship when it comes to legal gambling projections. Their last round of legislative meetings began with a hope that sports betting in Georgia could get over the hump once and for all. It ended, yet again, without anything changing.

And so, we have to ask: What makes 2024 any different?

Well, in the past, the Georgia State Senate has failed to provide adequate support for any sports betting measures. That’s not the case this time. The Georgia Senate voted on a bill to legalize sports betting and ultimately passed—by a relatively comfortable margin, no less.

So what happens next? What would the bill actually do? And should we expect Georgia voters to approve legal sports betting in 2024 if it appears on the general election ballot? 

Let’s see if we can find some answers.

What is the Next Step for the Latest Georgia Sports Betting Bill?

Policymakers just passed Senate Bill 386, by a vote of 35-15, which would legalize Georgia sports betting under the purview of the Georgia Lottery Commission. Next up: The House of Representatives. And after that, if it passes, the measure will appear on the 2024 ballot for voters to cast their stance. 

Here are some additional details, with an extensive comment from Senator Clint Dixon courtesy of The Georgia Virtue:

“Before passing the measure, lawmakers amended it to require voters to decide on a constitutional amendment in November that would allow sports betting. Should voters approve it, proceeds from sports betting — which state Sen. Clint Dixon estimated would total more than $100 million — would benefit the HOPE Scholarship and Georgia Pre-K student financial aid programs. In a statement, Dixon said passing SB 386 has ‘paved the way for responsible and regulated sports betting in Georgia.’

“‘As our state evolves, it’s crucial to acknowledge the existing landscape with neighboring states already engaging in this activity,’ Dixon continued. ‘With millions in potential revenue, SB 386 ensures that these funds contribute to the growth of Georgia, supporting essential programs such as the HOPE scholarship and pre-kindergarten initiatives. By implementing safeguards, like prohibiting credit card use for betting and providing tools for self-limitation, we prioritize responsible gambling. The bill’s bipartisan support exemplifies a united commitment to the well-being of our citizens and the prosperity of Georgia’s future. SB 386 is more than a legislative milestone; it’s an investment in education and our economy.’”

Senator Dixon speaks as if the legalization of sports betting in Georgia will be a formality. But is it?

Will Georgia Residents Vote in Favor of Legal Sports Gambling?

Before SB 386 ever reaches state voters, it must first pass through the House of Representatives. That shouldn’t be an issue. Not only does the Georgia sports gambling bill have bi-partisan support already, but members of the House have previously exuded more of an open mind on the subject.

Assuming the House doesn’t shift their stance, everything hinges on voter sentiment. And as it turns out, this, too, may be a formality. 

A 2023 poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution found that support among those surveyed actually favored legal sports betting. It’s unlikely those results will have changed in 2024. Sports betting in the United States is more prevalent than ever. Generally speaking, the population is more open to considering it. This is true even in more conservative states.

Yet again, this is a good sign for Georgia sports betting enthusiasts. There’s just one question left to ask.

Will Georgia Online Sports Betting be Legalized in 2024?

This is where many may find themselves disappointed. Though online sportsbooks in the United States process the vast majority of wagers placed each year, it doesn’t seem as if Georgia will legalize mobile wagering in 2024.

Under the current bill, there would be Georgia sports betting licenses awarded to five Atlanta pro sports teams, the Augusta National Golf Club, the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The terms do not mention online sports betting licenses in Georgia.

This seems to track with Senator Dixon’s recent comments. As he explained, Georgia sports betting would not allow the use of credit cards to accept wagers. That essentially negates any hope of a mobile element—for now, anyway.

Access to sports betting in Georgia could theoretically become an issue. Given the licenses expected to be handed out, residents that aren’t near a major city hub will have to travel longer lengths to visit retail sportsbooks. This is obviously an inconvenience. However, that doesn’t make this latest development any less of a huge deal. Just a couple of weeks ago, analysts still considered the prospect of Georgia sports betting in 2024 to be bleak. For the state to end up here, seemingly on the verge of legalizing sports gambling, is pretty incredible.

Nevertheless, Georgia isn’t across the finish line yet. Potential hiccups abound. And even if SB 386 makes it through the House without a single issue, there’s no guarantee what may happen at the polls. Sure, optimism at this stage is warranted. But the future of Georgia sports betting won’t officially be ironed out, it seems, until the United States presidential election in 2024.

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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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