A new bill introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives will attempt to legalize sports betting in the state.
The new bill, HB 86 (dubbed the Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act) was sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens and has received bipartisan support with co-sponsors from both Republicans and Democrats.
This isn’t the first time Stephens has attempted to bring sports betting to Georgia. Last year Stephens introduced HR 378 that would have legalized sports betting and also called for the creation of a gaming commission in the state. HR 378 failed to gain any traction.
When could legislators legalize Georgia sports betting?
There is hope that the fate of HB 86 will be different. HB 86 is simply a sports betting bill that would make it legal for anyone 21 years or older inside Georgia state lines to legally bet on professional and collegiate sporting events.
Under HB 86 the Georgia Lottery would oversee legal sports betting. By handing oversight to the Georgia Lottery, the bill would be exempt from the amendment process. Without the exemption an amendment to the state constitution would have been needed to allow gambling outside the state lottery.
If passed HB 86 would allow the Georgia Lottery to grant licenses to up to six online-only sportsbooks with remote registration. All sports betting revenue generated by the sportsbooks would be taxed at 16 percent. Sportsbooks operators would also have to a pay a $50,000 application fee and a $900,000 annual license retention fee.
Stephens estimated that legal online sports betting in Georgia would generate
$100 million in revenue annually. Under current state law all tax revenue collected from the state lottery must be directed toward education funding in the state. Sports betting tax revenue would have to follow the same law.
If online sports betting were to be legalized and go live in Georgia they could pull in bettors from several bordering states. Of the five states that border Georgia only Tennessee and North Carolina currently allow sports betting. That could make Georgia a destination for sports bettors in Florida, Alabama and South Carolina.