The proposed legislation in Georgia that would legalize sports betting in The Peach State cleared its first hurdle Tuesday afternoon as it was approved by a committee in the House.
The bill, which is known as the “Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act,” will now head to the House Rules Committee. If it passes there, it will go to the House floor for a vote, then the Senate and ultimately to the governor’s desk.
Rep. Ron Stephens introduced the bill at the start of the year. It was one of three expanded gambling bills he plans to file. He already filed his second, which would allow for brick-and-mortar casinos in the state, last week. The third, which has yet to be filed, would legalize horse racing.
Stephens told a local Fox affiliate that he looks at sports betting just like the only other form of legal gambling in Georgia.
“We believe that folks ought to just make it another lottery game,” said Stephens.
If passed, the Georgia Lottery would oversee the new industry, which would eliminate the need for an amendment to the state constitution. An amendment would be needed to legalize casinos.
The Lottery would be allowed to have six or more vendors provide sports betting to citizens and those vendors would have to pay a $50,000 application fee and a $900,000 annual licensing fee. Sportsbooks would be taxed at 14% on their adjusted gross income. The tax revenue would be used to fund educational programs in the state.
Stephens estimates that online sports betting would generate about $100 million in annual tax revenue for those programs. If brick-and-mortar casinos came to the state, then retail sports betting would likely follow.
Stephens also said that he thought sports betting would be the easiest of the three bills to pass. If it did pass, Georgia would join Tennessee as the only two states in the country with an online-only sports betting market.