Several states have already jumped on sports betting in 2022. Before the year is out, expect Georgia to join the list. Lawmakers in the Peach State are currently in legislative session and that will run all the way until March 31.
Representative Ron Stephens will be introducing a bill soon in the attempt to allow the Georgia State Lottery to offer legal sports betting. His plans were published in an editorial article, but it’s unclear how quickly he plans to introduce this legislation.
Stephens is in a position to play a big role in the legalization of sports betting as he is currently chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee. According to his plan, revenue from sports betting would go towards education reform, and that plan might help him generate some additional support.
To change to the state’s constitution, the legislature needs a ⅔ vote in both chambers. To get to that number, votes will be needed from both political parties, and that could ultimately be the issue.
Expect more details after the legislature introduces the bill in the current session.
Not the First Attempt
This is not the first time that lawmakers in Georgia have looked to legalize sports betting, and there was also a push to expand gambling overall. The biggest reason these initiatives failed in 2021 was Republicans and Democrats were both fighting over other issues as well.
Georgia has very limited gambling options. However, the legislature introduced a bill to allow for construction of casinos and horse racing tracks. A voting bill was the major holdup from Democrats last year, but Republicans are on board with Georgia gambling.
Professional teams from Georgia also made a strong push for legal sports betting in the state. That push included MLB’s Atlanta Braves, the Falcons, and the Hawks. Those teams will lobby with lawmakers again in 2022, especially if a bill starts to gain some traction.
Plenty of Opposition Remains
One of the main reasons sports betting isn’t currently operating in Georgia is any bill has faced intense opposition. This opposition should still be there this time around, but there appears to be more support from lawmakers.
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board is one of the most outspoken opponents to legal sports betting. That group believes that gambling addiction is a serious matter. A spokesperson for the Mission Board expressed concerns that gambling addiction is similar to a drug addiction.
One option in Georgia would be to ask the state’s voters to vote on the issue in the upcoming elections. This could be done on a county-by-county basis, allowing certain parts of the states to vote down the matter.
Louisiana used this strategy as well, and there were nine out of 64 parishes that voted against legal sports betting.