Sports Betting Dead Again in Georgia as Lawmakers Fail to Pass Legislation

The failure means that Georgians will have to wait until at least 2025 — and perhaps until 2026 if lawmakers require another referendum — before sports betting can be legalized in the southern state.

Mar 29, 2024 • 01:36 ET • 4 min read
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The dream of legalizing sports betting in the Peach State this year is dead.

Georgia lawmakers failed to pass any sports betting-related measure on Thursday, and technically Friday as well, as their last burst of legislating for 2024 went past midnight.

The failure means that Georgians will have to wait until at least 2025 — and perhaps until 2026 if lawmakers require another referendum — before sports betting can be legalized in the southern state. 

It’s a familiar tale in Atlanta, where the past few legislative sessions have seen sports wagering bills run into a variety of roadblocks, such as partisan disagreement about voting rights legislation that spilled over into other matters.

A lack of bipartisan support may have killed sports betting again this year, but this time it was over what looks like a relatively less controversial issue. Namely, it looks like Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives couldn’t agree on exactly how the proceeds of legal sports betting should be spent on various education programs. 

Now there will be no proceeds for anyone, even though there will probably still be a fair amount of sports betting conducted by Georgians. It just won’t be with any entity Georgia regulates or receives tax dollars from, but rather with offshore, out-of-state, and illegal bookmakers. 

“I just hate to see it all fall apart over how the money is going to be divided,” Republican Rep. Kasey Carpenter said during Wednesday’s meeting of the House's Higher Education Committee. “Because at the end of the day, I think it's going to provide funds that aren't being provided to education and in the long run will be better for all Georgians.”

That disagreement over the proceeds of sports betting came to light during the recent meetings of the House’s Higher Education Committee. The committee tweaked the sports betting-related legislation that was passed by the Senate, but it was apparently not enough to attract the required political support.

Two-thirds of lawmakers in the House needed to approve a proposed constitutional amendment authorizing sports betting, which meant both Democrats and Republicans would have had to lend their votes to the measure if it was going to pass. In committee, however, it was clear that Democrats were looking for changes that would provide more funding for needs-based higher education in Georgia. Those changes were not made. 

“I hope that as this issue proceeds, there will be an opportunity again for this issue to garner bipartisan support, as bipartisan compromise will be needed on both the House and Senate floor,” Democratic Rep. and Minority Caucus Whip Sam Park said during Wednesday's committee meeting.

What could have been

Yet Thursday began with the Higher Education Committee passing amended versions of Senate Resolution 579 and Senate Bill 386 (which already cleared the Senate), albeit without the Democratic-backed tweaks.

While the two measures underwent some changes, when combined — and pending approval at the ballot box this November — they could have allowed online sports betting in Georgia to be offered through as many as 16 different bookmakers. 

From there, though, progress slowed. The House’s Rules Committee did not place either sports betting measure on its calendar on Thursday or Friday, leaving them in limbo.

See you next year

The House finally adjourned at around 1 a.m. ET on Friday, putting the final nail in the coffin of the latest effort to legalize sports betting in Georgia. The southern state remains one of just a dozen in the U.S. that does not authorize any form of event wagering.

That is despite a few of Georgia’s neighbors adding mobile sports betting to their legalized forms of gambling. In Florida, success in the courts led to the relaunch of Hard Rock Bet late last year, while North Carolina launched online betting earlier this month. 

Moreover, recent data published by GeoComply, a company that helps sportsbooks determine the location of customers, showed more than 250,000 geolocation checks from March 11 to March 24 in Georgia, as residents tried to access legal sportsbooks outside the state. 

Until there is legislative change in Georgia, those attempts will continue to be blocked.

Pages related to this topic

Popular Content

Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo