Georgia House Begins Reviewing Bill to Allow Statewide Mobile Sports Betting

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A view of an empty Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

The time for talk isn’t over. It’s just beginning in the Georgia House of Representatives. And the topic is the mobile sports betting bill.  The House held its first hearing on Senate Bill 386 on March 12th. Senator Clint Dixon sponsored the bill, which passed through the Senate in February and seeks to introduce Georgia mobile sports betting and online sportsbooks statewide.

Under SB 386, the Georgia Lottery Corp. would oversee sports betting. The legislation would grant the authority to issue up to 16 sports betting licenses, with a significant clause setting aside eight licenses specifically for professional sports franchises or organizations based in the state.

Daily Fantasy Sports Debate Rekindles

Different people from the industry shared their views at the hearing. Supporters from fantasy sports companies argued that their games should be part of the law because of the economic benefit and the demand. At the same time, representatives of faith-based and anti-gambling organizations expressed their concerns.

“This kind of gambling is nothing more than state-sponsored predatory gambling,” said Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

Stuart Wilkinson, the Director of Government Affairs at PrizePicks, an Atlanta-based fantasy sports operator, projected that integrating fantasy sports could contribute an additional $40 million to $50 million annually to Georgia’s revenue. This would supplement the anticipated $100 million yearly revenue from sports betting in the Peach State.

The House’s Higher Education Committee also spoke but didn’t vote. The head of the committee, Chuck Martin, said they need to think about it more and maybe make some changes before deciding on the bill.

He said that there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure that Dixon’s bill aligns with the language in Senate Resolution 579, which is the constitutional amendment that the Senate approved.

Georgia Pro Sports Teams on Board

The bill states that five of the 16 licenses will be saved specifically for Georgia’s professional sports teams:

  • The Atlanta Falcons from the NFL
  • The Atlanta Braves from MLB
  • The Atlanta Hawks from the NBA
  • The Atlanta Dream from the WNBA
  • The Atlanta United from the MLS

Additionally, other organizations like the PGA of America, the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and Augusta National Golf Club, famous for hosting the Masters tournament, could also get licenses for both in-person and online sports betting

Other Important Aspects of the Georgia Gambling Bill

The Georgia Lottery would also receive an online skin, while the other seven licenses would be open for competitive bids.

Other important parts of the proposed law include allowing betting on college sports and setting a 20% tax rate on bets.

The licensing process entails an initial application fee of $100,000, followed by an annual renewal fee of $1 million. A significant provision within the bill is the Senate amendment requiring that the ultimate decision undergo a public referendum.

Although nothing has been definitively decided just yet, the fact that the discussion is continuing is promising, as legislators on both sides of the aisle appear to be on track to find a version of the bill they can all agree upon.

When the debate resumes, Bookmakers Review will be sure to provide an update.