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Georgia House committee organizes 11-hour sprint for sports betting

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The Georgian general assembly will only have 15 hours and 59 minutes starting at 8am on Thursday, 28 March, to be the first to legalise sport betting in 2024.

Today (27th March), the House Higher Education Committee failed to pass a bill package that would have legalised statewide sports betting via mobile devices. Once again, the problem is how the state intends to use the money it will receive from this new source of revenue.

Session scheduled to conclude Thursday evening Two hours prior to the 10am meeting of the entire house, the committee will be in session. Whatever you call it, the Thursday is set up for a sprint of sports betting.

After the Higher Education Committee voted against the bill on Monday (25th March), the decision to not vote was made again Wednesday. The committee has held three hearings since 19 March and one meeting that was cancelled.

Bill Cowsert, the Senate’s sponsor Bill Cowsert will introduce an amendement that would allocate 15% of the tax revenues for initiatives aimed at reducing problem gambling and promoting responsible gaming. The constitutional amendment does not include any money specifically for these programmes.

If the amendment is passed, this would represent $150,000 for every $1m of tax revenue.

Sam Park (Representative of the Higher Education Committee) will propose an amendment to send 5% tax dollars towards problem gaming and responsible gambling programmes. The remaining tax revenues would go to voluntary pre-K programs and programmes that benefit those earning less than the median income of the state.

It would be contradictory for lawmakers to vote both.

The two-thirds requirement

SB 579 must be passed by a majority of two thirds because Cowsert’s bill would amend the Constitution and send it to the voters. The vote must be cross-party because neither party can get a majority of two thirds.

If the bill is approved by the Senate committee – SB386 – it would have to be passed on the floor of the House before being sent back to the senate or conference committee. This could all happen in a single day. Georgia legislators have tried this before but they don’t appear to be able to agree on the legalization of sports betting.

On the last day of session there will be 150+ bills in the calendar for the House, which means that the question whether legal sports betting should be a top priority or not, comes into play. iGB sources tell us that getting to this stage has been a difficult process. The leadership of both chambers are frustrated by the lack of compromise, and there’s a chance that these proposals will be rejected or never voted upon.

On Wednesday, the House Higher Education Committee spent an hour or so discussing ideas that had been assigned to them at least one month prior. Again, the discussion focused on how taxpayer dollars will be spent.

The question is, which educational programs will receive the majority of funding. There are several options: funding need-based or merit-based scholarships for HOPE, school lunches, pre-K programs, and scholarships based on financial need.

Around you are betting states

Georgia legislators were close to legalising wagering by 2021. However, the Democrats refused to vote on a controversial bill supporting voting rights that was supported by Republicans. Two key states of the region, Florida and North Carolina, have introduced sports betting in that period.

North Carolina launched two weeks ago, and the demand was high. The North Carolina Lottery reported that the handle in the first week of $198m. Gross revenue unadjusted was $42.7m. This should translate to about $4m tax.

The Seminoles in Florida launched the Hard Rock Bet platform back in November.

Set the alarm clock and get ready for Georgia’s sprint in sports betting.

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