After failing to pass sports betting legislation in 2023, the future is murky for those who want to bet on sports in Georgia.
The process of legalizing will have to begin again when the Georgia General Assembly reconvenes in January. But with other important topics to debate, it’s a wonder if sports betting will once again be shoved to the backburner.
Despite Georgia being a massive sports hub, it seems unlikely that sports betting will launch before the Atlanta Falcons begin their 2024 regular season.
Legalizing sports betting in Georgia remains an uphill climb
Several efforts have been made by lawmakers in the General Assembly to legalize Georgia sports betting over the years. Unfortunately, opposition has also grown each year. So, the chances of legalizing sports betting in Georgia could still be several years away.
The goal of many sportsbooks and interested parties is getting sports betting up and running in The Peach State by the 2024 NFL season. But that seems a bit overzealous.
Even if sports betting legislation is passed in Georgia early next year, it would likely have to wait until at least November to launch. It can be a long and arduous process to create a regulatory system for sports betting. Although, there are several templates to follow, as more and more states legalize wagering on sports.
If it passed in Georgia, though, a likely start date would probably be in 2025, after the NFL season concludes.
Appetite to legalize sports betting in Georgia increases every year
While the timeline is less than ideal for football fans in Georgia, it seems the appetite for legalization is growing after years of failing to pass a sports betting bill.
In early 2023, there was a vote to add an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to allow sports betting. If passed, it would have led to a referendum on the ballot. Despite the measure receiving 30 Yes votes and 26 No votes, the amendment was shot down because it required a two-thirds majority.
Another Senate sports betting bill was voted down 37-19, and the House bill was never voted on.
That means the next chance to begin a dialogue to legalize sports betting will come in January. Can a two-thirds majority be found? There are several indications that voters would approve the launch of apps such as BetMGM Georgia or DraftKings Georgia if sports betting ended up on the ballot.
What is the holdup for sports betting in Georgia?
The major roadblocks are a divided Georgia Legislature and a swath of other important bills being debated and considered. Unfortunately, sports betting is not a top priority for most Georgia lawmakers. Even though tax money from betting could be used in several areas.
There’s also been a failure by the Georgia lawmakers who support sports betting to come together as one unit. Instead, there have been multiple proposals in the Senate and House. In 2024, the best way forward could be presenting a single bill supported by all who seek sports betting.
One outside factor that could push The Peach State to take sports wagering more seriously would be if Florida makes progress on adding sports betting. Recently, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling that nullified a gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. That gaming compact allows digital sports betting throughout Florida on Seminole land.
The overturned ruling is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court. But it cracks open a doorway to legal online sports wagering in The Sunshine State. If that doorway is ever fully open, Georgians will be able to hop across state lines and place wagers.
That would effectively be taking money from Georgia and giving it to Florida. That might likely encourage Georgia lawmakers to work together to stem the flow of money going south.
Photo by John Bazemore/AP Photo