Georgia is moving forward with a bill that would make legal sports betting a reality.
The state’s Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee passed Senate Bill 172 on Tuesday — a piece of legislation that would legalize sports betting in the Peach State.
If enacted, SB 172 would work with Senate Resolution 140 — both introduced on February 14 by Senator Bill Cowsert — to legalize sports betting in Georgia by the way of a constitutional amendment.
The constitutional amendment requires an endorsement by two-thirds of the House of Representatives and Senate before a ballot measure is presented to the public.
SB 172 and SR 140 would legalize both retail and online wagering. The bills approve a minimum of six mobile sports betting licenses, with online sports betting sites paying $1 million annually to retain their position in the eighth-most populous state in the U.S. with 10.9 million residents.
Retail wagers will go through the Georgia Lottery, which will have its own sports betting app.
Operators that are approved for licenses in Georgia under SB 172 and SR 140 will be required to pay a 25% tax from their adjusted gross incomes on parlay bets, prop bets, and live bets, while regular wagers will have a tax rate of 20%.
The tax revenue generated will go back to Georgia residents with 50% allocated toward scholarships, grants, and loans. Another 25% will go toward health care, mental health, and economic development, with an additional 15% to problem gambling initiatives and a final 10% toward education and hosting major sporting events.
Time is of the essence for SB 172 and SB 140 as the bills have to make it through Georgia’s chambers before March 6 — crossover day — or they will not be considered this legislative session.
It's good to have options
Georgia could also legalize sports betting through other bills that have been recently introduced.
Last week, the state’s House of Representatives met to discuss House Bill 380 — a piece of legislation introduced on Feb. 13 that would only legalize mobile wagering. The bill requires operators to pay a 20% tax rate and a tax on revenue generated from sportsbook promotions.
Georgia’s Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee also approved Senate Bill 57 by an 8-1 vote last month. SB 57 — introduced at the end of January — would legalize both retail and online wagering with up to 18 sports betting licenses and a tax rate of 20%. The bill also authorizes wagers on horse racing.
Legal sports betting in Georgia could provide an economic boost for the state as it's projected to generate roughly $50 million in annual tax revenue, according to Senator Cowsert.