It was expected that Georgia would be the next big domino to fall in 2023 when it came down to legalizing sports gambling. The Peach State’s attempt to legalize sports is now dead.
Last week, HTML57, which was a bill that would have brought racetracks and legalized sports betting to Georgia, lost a vote at the Senate. Although this loss did not help the chances of sports betting in Georgia, there were many pieces still live in the statehouse that aimed to legalize betting with or without a constitutional amend.
However, hopes of sports betting in Georgia were shattered by SR140 Tuesday morning. This amendment would allow for expanded gambling and allow for sports betting. Several amendments were added to the bill during debate. One to allow pari-mutuel betting and expansion like casinos, and another to alter the budget’s scope to where the tax money would be spent.
The bill did not attach any of the amendments. The bill did not have the required two-thirds majority to pass a constitutional amendment. However, most voters supported the measure.
While the effort to legalize betting on sports with a constitutional change died in the early hours of the day, HB380, which would have legalized betting on sports without any constitutional amendment, kept hope alive for the state until Tuesday night. The bill was not able to be brought to the floor in time for the expiration of the session.
Georgia now has a year to recover from the recession and reevaluate its approach to expanding gambling and sports betting.
The year was marked by several approaches to gambling expansion in the State, and several bills were introduced that went beyond the ones mentioned.
An ex-Chief Justice Harold Melton of the Georgia Supreme Court wrote an opinion stating that it is possible to expand gambling without a referendum. This support was given to bills such as HB380, which attempted to circumvent the constitutional amendment.
Melton’s opinion was not as comprehensive as the supporters had hoped. Several lawmakers expressed their desire to present this issue to voters during the debate on SR140. It will be interesting to see if legislators will support a bill that may face legal challenges even though it has an easier path to Atlanta passage.