GA Sports Betting Amendment Set For First House Committee Hearing Monday

Written By Matthew Bain on March 15, 2024
Photo of committee members' arms and papers on table with microphones for story on Georgia SR 579 getting Higher Education Committee hearing on March 18

On Monday, the resolution that would allow Georgia to add the legalization of sports betting to its state constitution will receive its first hearing in front of the House Higher Education Committee.

This resolution, SR 579, works in tandem with SB 386 to give voters the option to authorize sports betting in Georgia at the polls in this upcoming November election.

Nothing will happen with SB 386 until SR 579 gets discussed

SR 579 is one of three pieces of legislation on the March 18 agenda for the Higher Education Committee. Specifically, the agenda writes “HEARING ONLY” next to the description of SR 579, indicating there will be no vote taken. Similarly, this same committee heard discussion of SB 386 on Tuesday without holding a vote.

Because these pieces of legislation work together — SB 386 adds a ballot initiative, and SR 579 allows for sports betting to be added to the state constitution — Monday’s discussion will likely mirror what took place Tuesday. It’s also likely the committee did not want to vote on either piece of legislation until they heard debate on both because of their codependent relationship.

So, after SR 579 receives its hearing on Monday, which begins at 1 p.m. ET, things could theoretically move quickly with it and SB 386, and perhaps we’ll know whether either bill will make it to the House floor by early next week.

Monday marks 10 days until end of session

Sen. Bill Cowsert is the sponsor of SR 579, which passed the Senate on Feb. 27. He is also the author of the amendment added to SB 386 that required a voter referendum to add Georgia sports betting. In its original form, SB 386 would have added sports betting to the Georgia Lottery’s purview without requiring voter approval. It passed with Cowsert’s amendment on Feb. 1.

The current Georgia Legislature session ends on March 28, so time is running out for lawmakers to give voters the option to legalize sports betting. With that deadline looming, it feels like next week is truly crunch time for the two pieces of legislation.

If the Higher Education Committee doesn’t vote to send both bills to the House floor next week, it feels less-than-likely that sports betting will be on Georgia’s November ballot.

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Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain is currently the Content Manager at Catena Media's national online lottery site, PlayiLottery. He used to be the News Content Manager at Catena Media, overseeing news content for the network's highest-priority regional sites. With sports gambling in Georgia gaining traction in 2024, PlayGeorgia was one of his focuses. Prior to joining Catena Media in 2022, Matthew won 10 statewide and national journalism awards during six years as a reporter and editor for the USA TODAY Network. Matthew's work primarily appeared in the Des Moines Register, but he was also featured in the Detroit Free Press, Indianapolis Star, Arizona Republic, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and USA TODAY. Throughout his career, Matthew's bylines have also appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seattle Times, and Orange County Register.

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