Two separate sports betting bills in Georgia have failed in the State House and the State Senate.
This means that Georgia’s sports betting dream is dead until the 2024 Georgia legislative session at the earliest.
The Senate bill’s primary sponsor and Republican Majority Leader Bill Cowsert’s strategy was focused on amending the Constitution of the State of Georgia to allow the legislature to pass laws.
In turn, this would have allowed for sports betting to be operated in the state.
Georgia currently prohibits the authorization of gambling operations, with an enumerated exception for lotteries.
This bill – titled Senate Resolution 140 – did not get the requisite two thirds majority needed for an amendment of the state constitution, and so failed at 30-26 votes.
If the resolution had passed, sports betting would have appeared on the ballot by referendum in November 2024.
And while the amendments enabling legislation Senate Bill 172 – which lays out the specifics of the state’s regulatory regime in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) – have not been directly voted down, there is little chance of it proceeding any further.
Cowsert’s vision of sports betting would have authorized both retail and online betting in the state. Digital operators would be required to pay $1m per year for their licenses.
Taxes would have been set at 25% of gross gambling revenue derived from live, prop and parlay bets, with all other sports betting revenue to be taxed at 20%. A new body – the Georgia Sports Betting Commission – was also to be established to oversee the activity.
The failure of the twinned bills is the second Georgian attempt at sports betting authorization that has stalled in the chamber, following last week’s defeat of Senate Bill 57, which died in committee.
Dead in the House
The attempt to pass sports betting in the state House differed from the Senate’s, in that it sought to change the OCGA without constitutional amendment.
House Bill 380 – led by Republican Representative Marcus Wiedower – would have classified sports betting as a lottery, and given additional powers and responsibilities to the existing Georgia Lottery Corporation.
Wiedower’s proposed law was limited to online only and aimed to impose a 25% tax in all revenue derived from sports betting activities.
The bill failed to move on from committee in time for a vote, before its final chance at advancing on Monday evening.