New Georgia Bill seeks to legalize and regulate sports betting

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The Senate of Georgia has received Bill SB 57, filed by 11 senators, seeking to legalize sports betting under the umbrella of the Georgia Lottery Corporation, who currently oversee the lottery.

It would also see the creation of a separate entity, the Georgia Gaming Corporation, which under SB 57 would be defined as ‘an instrumentality of the state, and not a state agency and a public corporation’. The Georgia Gaming Corporation would be located in Fulton County.

Who are the senators pushing for legal sports betting in Georgia?

The Senators involved in the filing are as follows:

  • Billy Hickman (4th District)
  • Clint Dixon (45th District)
  • Ed Harbison (15th District)
  • Brandon Beach (21st District)
  • Freddie Powell Sims (12th District)
  • Jason Anavitarte (31st District)
  • Carden Summers (13th District)
  • Derek Mallow (2nd District)
  • John Albers (56th District)
  • Sonya Halpern (39th District)

The Georgia Gaming Corporation would oversee the majority of sports betting, including the regulation, licensure and offering of sports betting in Georgia on mobile applications. Further, it would regulate the offering of sports betting on machines installed in specified eligible locations open to the public. It will also be responsible for the state’s responsible gambling program, monitoring advertising and responsible gambling notifications and various other nuances.

What’s included in the bill?

The bill reveals that there will be a minimum of 9, and a maximum of 18 Type 1 sports betting licenses to eligible entities, who will then have the ability to offer GA sports betting services. The bill reads that ‘Five Type 1 sports betting licenses shall be reserved for the Type 1 eligible entities defined in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (44) of Code Section 50-28-3.’ The paragraph referenced provides the following as eligible:

  • Any professional sports team, or its designee;
  • A sports governing body that holds one or more sanctioned annual golf tournaments at the highest level of professional golf in this state as determined by the commission and one or more other sanctioned annual golf tournaments in this state;
  • The owner of a facility in this state that has held an annual invitational golf tournament for professional and amateur golfers for at least 30 years;
  • The owner of a facility located in this state that hosts auto races on a national association for stock car auto racing national tour or a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of the owner of such a facility, if the owner is a nonprofit corporation or nonprofit organization;
  • The owner of a facility located in this state that has hosted races on an international motor sports car tour in addition to other motor sports events for at least 30 years, or its designee; and
  • The Georgia Lottery Corporation.

The above are very specific, with other licenses to be offered out by the Georgia Lottery Corporation with applications being assessed.

For each application, the cost would be $100,000 and the licensing fee for the state would come in at $1 million on an annual basis should the operator wish to operate past the first year. The taxation rate sits in the ‘competitive’ range, being touted at 20% of adjusted gross income, considerably less than New York (51%) but broadly in line with other states that offer similar.

Can you gamble in Georgia at the moment?

There has long been pressure in the state of Georgia to legalize sports betting and online gaming. Although Rep. Ron Stephens amended two gambling bills passed by the Senate in 2021 and both were approved by a House Committee, neither made it to the House floor. Gambling overall in Georgia is far from as advanced as other states, with commercial and tribal casinos not in existence, and the battle for retail casinos has failed to gain traction too. Online gaming in Georgia and online sports betting would be a  significant leap from no legal avenues prior.

The process, given lack of experience with gambling in Georgia, is likely to be a long one even should the bill pass through the House. It’s likely that voters must also approve the amendment, and from that the Georgia Lottery Corporation will have to craft a nuanced set of rules and regulations to make the state an attractive proposition for operators.