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Georgia sports betting bills die after missing legislative deadline


Two bills that would have legalised certain forms of sports wagering in Georgia have died after they failed to progress in time to meet a legislative deadline in the state.

Senate Bill 403 and House Resolution 378 had sought to amend the state’s Constitution in order to permit sports betting in Georgia.

However, in order for either bill to have progressed further during the current legislative session, they would have had to have crossed over from one house to the other by the 28th day of the session, known as Crossover Day.

Traditionally in Georgia, if a constitutional amendment resolution is not passed out of its chamber of origin by Crossover Day, it becomes inactive until the next year’s legislative session begins.

March 12 marked Crossover Day in the current Georgia legislative session, and as neither bill was able to progress before midnight on the day, they will not move forward in this session.

However, the substance of either bill can still be amended to a live bill later in this year’s session. Local bills and private resolutions are not affected by the Crossover Day deadline.

Introduced to the Georgia Senate in February with the support of author, Senator Burt Jones, and fellow Senators Jeff Mullis, Brandon Beach, Ed Harbison and David Lucas, SB 403 set out plans to permit mobile sports betting in the state.

The Georgia Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Commission, which would have been established to regulate the market, was to sit within the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

The Commission would have been tasked with processing licence applications, with operators facing a non-refundable application fee of $50,000, in addition to an annual renewal payment of $900,000.

Holders would have been taxed at a rate of 10% on adjusted gross income from sports betting activities in Georgia, payable on a monthly basis and based on the adjusted gross income from the preceding calendar month.

The bill had been passed to the Georgia Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee for consideration.

Meanwhile, HR 378 had sought to amend the Constitution to permit all forms of betting, bingo games, raffles and gambling in the state. Author, Representative Ron Stephens, first put the bill forward by in January 2019, during the previous session.

Again, the resolution set out plans to establish a gaming commission to regulate the market. However, HR 378 also stated “no off-track or off-site pari-mutuel betting, casino or sports betting” would have been authorised.

The resolution did not include any details in terms of license fees or tax rates, but it did state that each county across Georgia would have been able to stage a referendum so that voters could have their say on permitting such activities in the local area.

Currently the only form of legal gambling permitted in the state is its lottery. The Gaming and Pari-mutuel Wagering on Horse Racing and Growing Georgia’s Equine Industry Study Committee was established by the Senate in April last year to study opportunities to regulate betting, gaming and horse racing in the state.