Legalizing Sports Betting in Georgia in 2023 May Not Happen After All

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Georgia Bulldogs fans react to a play against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP.

The effort to bring sports betting in Georgia this year may have just gotten tougher after five state Senators introduced a measure to establish a sports betting study committee.

The “Senate Study Committee” on the Creation of a Robust Wagering Ecosystem in the State of Georgia” would take a deeper look at some of the specific questions some lawmakers have about legalizing sports betting. And the answers would not be revealed until the end of the year.

If SR 394 is passed by the Senate and House and approved by Gov. Brian Kemp, a 10-member sports betting study commission will be created. The group’s primary goal would be to examine whether a constitutional amendment is required to allow sports betting.

The language of the bill reads: “The committee shall adopt specific findings or recommendations that include proposed legislation, and the chairperson shall file a report of the same prior to the date of abolishment specified in this resolution.”

Who Supports Georgia SR 394?

Sen. Carden Summers and Sen. Bill Cowsert are not only two of the bill’s five sponsors but are among the Georgia legislators who believe a constitutional amendment is necessary.

Senators Lee Anderson, Michael Dugan, and Jason Esteves are also sponsoring SR 394. The introduction of the bill suggests that many senators oppose HB 237, which would legalize sports betting in Georgia.  

Lawmakers supporting HB 237 argue that a constitutional amendment is unnecessary since sports betting could fall under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Lottery

Because SR394 is not a bill that would change the law permanently, the Senate and House may still act on it. If the members approve the proposal and form the study group, the sports betting committee will have until December 1 to deliver its findings and legislative suggestions to the state.

What Would HB 237 Allow?

As it is currently written, HB 237 would allow Georgia sports betting through up to 16 online sportsbooks. To wager, bettors would have to be 21 or older and physically present in the state.

The lottery, professional sports organizations, and facilities, like Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters’ golf tournament, would be eligible for licenses. Adjusted gross revenue would be taxed at 22%. 

The Georgia legislative session is set to end on March 29, and since HB 237 was recently overhauled, it will need to be approved by both the Senate and the House again. So, there’s not much time.

SR 394 Will Slow the Process of Legalizing Sports Betting in Georgia

But now enter SR 394, which would shut down almost any attempt to get a sports betting bill passed in Georgia this year for two reasons. 

  1. SR 394 would postpone any potential start date for legalized sports betting in Georgia, as the resolution would only create a study instead of legislative action
  2. If the study committee is formed, the group’s findings aren’t due until December. 

Gaming, law, and sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach gave the “Senate Study Committee on the Creation of a Robust Wagering Ecosystem in the State of Georgia” an alternative title on Twitter. He called it “How Not To Pass A Sports Betting Bill in 2023.”  We’ll just have to wait and see.