The new legislative session was opened in Georgia at the beginning of the year. It was expected that there would be new efforts to legalize sports betting in Georgia, despite the continued opposition from anti-gambling groups. In response, Sen. Billy Hickman brought up Senate Bill57 for discussion in mid-February.
To the dismay of its supporters and as anticipated by the opposing parties, Bill 57 was defeated at the Senate.
37 “No” Votes VS 18 “Yes” Votes
According to the Associated Press, the Bill received 37 votes of “no” and 19 votes of “yes”. Senators who opposed legalizing gambling were accompanied in their disapproval by lawmakers who believe legalizing sports betting would need a constitutional amendment.
The clock is now at midnight on Sunday for lawmakers to reconsider the matter.
Hickman’s bill, if it had been approved, would have required the state lottery offer sports betting and horse-race wagering options. The winnings from the track would be paid by the horse racing track or another company and not the betting pool.
The same bill would also have allowed the proceeds to go towards college scholarships and prekindergarten. These are two programs that the Constitution requires Georgia to support.
A constant battle
A different bill, which would allow betting on sports while exempting horse racing wagering, is also in the Georgia House.
Representative Marcus Wiedower introduced House Bill 380 in February. It asked for legalization of sports betting, but not horse racing wagering. The Senate could approve a proposal that allows voters to make their own decisions with the aid of a referendum.
The Constitution of the Peach State continues to ban parimutuel betting as well as casinos. However, this does not stop the possibility of illegal sports betting taking place through underground sportsbooks.
According to Senator Brandon Beach, this issue “more harmful for people”. There is therefore a growing sense that the state will eventually embrace sports betting.
The state could also benefit from new revenue from gambling, which is an illegal practice. This pressure is magnified when sports betting becomes legal in 34 US States.
The Constitutional Amendment: A Complex Matter
To amend the constitution, a majority of both chambers of the General Assembly would be required. The amendment would require approval from a majority of the voters in each state.
A standard sports betting bill is the best solution, considering that Republicans don’t have a majority of two chambers of Congress and because several members of the party refuse to support gambling due to their moral beliefs.
These bills require only a simple majority vote from both chambers and the signature of Republican Governor. Brian Kemp. He has already stated his desire to see legal sports betting in Georgia.