Georgia’s Final Say on Sports Betting Could Come From the Voters

Georgia Senate Resolution 579 was passed on Tuesday by the chamber with no changes, meaning a statewide referendum on sports betting is inching closer to reality.

Feb 28, 2024 • 11:06 ET • 2 min read
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Voters are on track to give the last word on whether Georgia should legalize sports betting this year.

Georgia Senate Resolution 579 was passed on Tuesday by the chamber with no changes, meaning a statewide referendum on legalizing sports betting in November is one step closer to reality. 

In short, the resolution proposes an amendment to the Georgia constitution that would permit lawmakers to legalize and authorize sports betting in the southern state.

A majority of voters would have to approve giving the General Assembly that ability. To that end, the proposed resolution lays out the ballot question, pending further approvals by two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the governor.

To wit: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law for sports betting in this state and to provide for such proceeds to be used for educational funding for pre-kindergarten and HOPE scholarships, services for gambling addiction, and the advancement and promotion of sports in this state?"

Take it to the House

The resolution is progressing in the wake of a bill that would implement online sports betting in Georgia. Senate Bill 386 was passed by the chamber on Feb. 1 and is further awaiting action in the House.

S.B. 386 would legalize online sports betting through as many as 16 bookmakers. After being tweaked in the Senate, its text now states that its provisions would become effective on Jan. 1, 2025, after the ratification of a constitutional amendment like the one proposed by S.R. 579.

Georgia remains a leading candidate to legalize sports betting this year, although its legislative session runs until March 28, leaving about a month for lawmakers to pass both S.B. 386 and S.R. 579. The House has historically stood in the way of such action.

Burt believes

Nevertheless, both measures made it to the House before Thursday’s deadline for bills to cross to the other side of the legislature. Furthermore, the push to legalize sports betting in Georgia this session appears to have support from a higher power: Lt. Governor Burt Jones. 

“I was proud of the bi-partisan effort in the Senate today,” Jones said in a press release following the passage of S.B. 386. “We are one step closer to providing tens of millions of dollars to education funding for the next generations of Georgia. I look forward to continued discussions to get this done.”

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