Georgia Sports Betting Bill Clears First Major Hurdle

This Tuesday, the state House committee in Georgia approved a legislation to legalize sports betting in the state.

The state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah is the primary sponsor of the bill and chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee. He filed the bill in January and just a few weeks later, the legislation cleared its first major hurdle.

He stated: “We believe that the folks ought to just make it another lottery game”.

The new act called “Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act” would give the Georgia Lottery Corporation oversight powers for six or more vendors. There is also no need for lawmakers and voters to approve a new Constitutional Amendment since the new act is adding sports betting to the existing lottery system.

According to the legislation, any interested vendor would have to pay $50,000 fee for application and the annual licensing fee is $900,000.

They will also have to pay 14% tax on their adjusted gross income. The profit would go straight to lottery’s educational programs like the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K.

Estimated Profit from Sports Betting

Sports betting is a very profitable niche in the US since the coronavirus pandemic started. Many states are opting for online gaming and sports betting as a way to compensate for the losses in the past year and Georgia makes no exception.

According to Rep. Stephens, the estimated profit from sports betting in the state is $43 million in revenue for the lottery.

Virginia Galloway and the Faith and Freedom Coalition fought the gambling expansion in the state for years now. After the approval of the bill she said: “It’s like a bad cold. It comes back every winter and it really is just a bad idea for Georgia”.

In her words legalization of sports betting is a mistake. She added: “I know it’s addictive and it very much targets young people. In the UK where it is legal, more people from 12 to 16 have done sports gambling than have smoke, drank alcohol or used illegal drugs put together.”

As a response, Rep. Stephens ensured that the bill included safeguards like age requirement and not allowing people to pay for their wagers with debit cards instead with credit cards.

He said: “People are doing it anyway. We can’t stop it. They’re going to do this offshore and again, it’s a lot of the revenue that we’re just not receiving. Our professional teams, of course, have engaged this particular bill because they want fan involvement. This is a hook, especially for the younger generation” said Rep. Stephens.

The bill now heads to the House Rules Committee, which will decide if and when it makes it to the full House for a floor vote.

Source: “Georgia House Committee approves sports betting bill” , Fox Atlanta, February 3, 2021

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