Gambling Operator Meets with Legislators to Discuss Georgia Sports Betting

Gambling Operator Meets with Legislators to Discuss Georgia Sports Betting

The legalization of Georgia sports betting continues to be a fickle topic.

Support for prospective initiatives and ultimate approval isn’t quite scarce. Advocates are easy to find. But the issue is not top-of-mind. That much has been made clear over the past few years. Many have even wondered whether sports betting in Georgia would be a serious topic entering January 2024 legislative meetings.

As we enter December 2023, it isn’t yet clear how much support the legalization of sports gambling in The Peach State currently boasts. But conversations are at least continuing to take place. In fact, a fairly prominent operator recently met with Georgia legislators to talk about sports betting and general gambling expansion. 

What becomes of this meeting is anyone’s guess. Was the conversation meaningful enough to move the needle on Georgia sports betting in 2024? And what hurdles still remain? Let’s dig into all the latest Georgia sports bettings news.

Entain Foundation Met with State Legislators to Talk About the Future of Georgia Sports Betting and Gambling

The Entain Foundation, which is a part owner of BetMGM, is the operator that recently sat down with Georgia legislators. Though sports betting was among the topics discussed, the conversation reportedly focused on the expansion of general gambling.

As things currently stand, Georgia only allows lottery and charity bingo gambling. Not even land-based casinos are permitted. You must board a cruise and wager at sea if you want to partake in Georgia casino gambling. Sports betting and casino advocates have been pushing for more lenient and comprehensive gaming policies since the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act back in 2018. 

A handful of Georgia sports betting initiatives have received formal consideration, but nothing has come close to full-on legalization. 

According to Gaming Today’s Tebearau Egbe, the meeting between the Entain Foundation and Georgia legislators touched upon potential gambling bills, what they’d look like, the support required and other things. It isn’t immediately clear whether any concrete plans were made. But multiple reports indicate that various scenarios and frameworks were outlined at length.

Georgia Sports Betting is the Leading Candidate If the State Expands Their Gaming Laws

The legalization of sports betting throughout Georgia is, for now, considered more likely than the approval of horse racing or casino gaming. That will surprise many, but it makes sense. Setting up sports betting operations is easier than implementing horse racing and casino gaming. Both require physical locations. (Horse racing is also more frequently frowned upon these days due to potential mistreatment of the horses in question.) Sports betting can be introduced remotely. That’s how sports betting in Tennessee has come to be. They allow online sportsbooks in the United States to operate within the region. Retail locations, though, remain prohibited.

Could Georgia sports betting follow Tennessee’s lead? That also remains unclear. But Entain Foundation trustee Bill Pascrell has been among the driving forces behind pro-sports-betting arguments. As he recently said, per Gaming Today:

Georgia has politically a lot of issues including the Trump indictment, so there’s a little bit of a distraction at the moment but I feel pretty positive Georgia is going to move (betting) on next year along with a few other states. If you don’t regulate it, you can’t track it, you can’t monitor it. The only way to penetrate and have an impact on problem gambling in a particular jurisdiction is to regulate it.”

Mr. Pascrell is far from the first person to make this argument. But the logic possibly holds more weight now, because…

Could Uptick in Illegal and Out-of-State Sports Betting Drive Georgia to Reconsider Gambling Laws?

More than half of the United States has now legalized some form of sports betting. Now that it’s a majority, more people from states without legal gambling are seeking alternatives. This can often mean traveling to different states to bet on sports. But it can also mean engaging in unregulated and illegal sports betting activity.

Martin Lycka, the Senior Vice President for American Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling at Entain, has gone as far as saying that illegal gambling in Georgia is on the rise. “The other one relates to consumer protection legislation in order to clamp down on any black market,” he explained, via Gaming Today. “Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that Georgians would not be betting at the moment.”

Pinpointing just how much Georgia residents spend on out-of-state or illegal sports betting is difficult. But Lycka is right: People are finding ways to bet regardless. And for the state’s part, they have recently focused on trying to curtail illegal Georgia gambling rings.

The Future of Sports Gambling in Georgia Remains Uncertain

Offering legal options to bet on sports makes more sense than ever given how opposed The Peach State is to black market activity. Officials no doubt have concerns. Many of them are valid. Legalized sports betting can lead to a surge in reported gambling addiction. Operators can also be predatory. But the state can mitigate the negative effects by legalizing Georgia online sports betting. This takes care of any predatory practices at retail locations. 

Granted, the state cannot assuage all concerns. Gambling addiction will persist no matter how they write their policies, and no matter how extensive their problem betting resources might be. But a regulated market is arguably, at the bare minimum, safer than an unregulated one. And it seems legislators are thinking along the same lines. Otherwise, why take the meeting with the Entain Foundation? Just because? 

Whatever the case, we should have a better feel for the future of Georgia sports betting in just a few weeks’ time.

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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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