Sports betting isn't yet legal in Georgia, but the state has already put a ton of thought into what will happen once that changes. Among the factors, they've considered and discussed is the cost of obtaining a betting license for sportsbooks. And while many focus on how much wagers placed could earn Georgia, it turns out assessing fees for sports betting licenses could also be a lucrative revenue stream on an annual basis.
Although the future of sports betting in Georgia remains a divisive topic without a concrete resolution on the horizon, the state continues to map out parameters for what will happen if and when online gambling gets the stamp of approval. Part of this process has entailed setting the price tag for a legal betting license in Georgia, and the cost of doing business might surprise you.
Because it's $1 million. Per sportsbook. Every year.
That is, objectively, a lot of money. And knowing how far that much revenue can go, makes you wonder why legal sports betting may not reach Georgia before 2024.
At the same time, does the state's decision to set a price for sportsbook licenses to imply a change of heart? How much money does Georgia really stand to make as part of this process? Does the news surrounding the cost of a legal betting license in Georgia mean you should rush to find a home for your wagering by pillaging through our reviews of the top online sportsbooks so you're ready when the state gives the okay?
We've got the answers to all these questions—and more!
Sports Betting Licenses in Georgia will be Lucrative Business
At $1 million per legal sports betting license, Georgia is looking at extra tens of millions of dollars in potential tax revenue. Granted, this all depends on how many licenses they're willing to dole out. Early projections suggest they'll look to approve 18 to 20 licenses at the onset of legal sports betting. That's $18 to $20 million per year in additional revenue stream with which the state can play.
The buck doesn't stop there, either. Sportsbooks are also expected to pony up a $100,000 licensing application fee. Mind you; these applications don't assure sportsbooks of Georgia's approval. It is a non-refundable cost of doing business. So, depending on how many sportsbooks apply for a license, the state could rake in an extra couple of million dollars in one-time fees.
There's also the potential for Georgia to gradually juice up the yearly licensing cost if the sports betting market proves successful. After all, many surrounding states are already charging more to operate sportsbooks within their region. Illinois, for example, has a $10 million licensing fee that lasts four years and is paid in annual installments. Illinois also charges extra to companies that wish to operate online-only sportsbooks; the four-year fee increases $20 million, once again paid in annual installments, if you're a digital-only odds provider like DraftKings or FanDuel.
That compensation model is not uncommon. Other states have implemented similar policies. Larger sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings have the deep pockets to foot the bill, and the higher fee is a way for the state to justify licensing companies that won't actually create jobs within their province.
How Much Could Georgia Make Per Year Off Legal Sports Betting?
Of course, states can only inflate their sportsbook licensing fees if they have the gambling market to back it up. Select places, such as Iowa or New Mexico, have struggled to drum up the endless interest from odds providers.
Georgia, however, doesn't have to worry about that same lack of demand. They cover the entire spectrum of curb appeal. They have major franchises across nearly all professional sports leagues, including the NFL (Atlanta Falcons), NBA (Atlanta Hawks), MLB (Atlanta Braves), and MLS (Atlanta United FC). As you might have noticed by the team monickers, Atlanta is among the most popular sports markets in the business.
On top of that, Georgia also has a booming collegiate sports landscape. There are a number of popular Division 1 universities with powerhouse programs in college football and college football. The state should have no trouble getting residents to sign up for sportsbooks and place bets. And that, by extension, assures that they can raise the licensing fees for those sportsbooks operators over time.
Actually, if we're being honest, Georgia might be able to increase the licensing fees from the onset of legal sports betting. Experts from the gaming commission believe the state will see somewhere between $600 million and $700 million in sports betting revenue in the first year alone. With that type of customer base built-in, Georgia should have no issue setting up a licensing structure similar to other premier betting markets in Illinois and New York.
Will Legal Sports Betting Come to Georgia Soon?
All this talk about the cost of Georgia's legal sports betting licenses naturally begs the question: Is sports betting about to become legalized throughout the state? And if not, why?
Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of good news to report here. The state has definitely thought about sports betting. You don't come up with a licensing fee without having given the topic ample consideration. But the latest sports betting bills—SB 142 and SR 135—never even made it to the floor of discussion at Georgia's latest legislative session, which ended a few weeks ago.
Without a special vote being called, Georgia will be hard-pressed to legalize sports betting before 2024. The next legislative session will be in 2023, and assuming the bills get elevated to the Senate and subsequently passed, it will take about a year, if not more, for the state to complete the entire rollout. So, residents of Georgia should sit tight while remaining both optimistic and patient.
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