Colorado Rockies outfielder and former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Charlie Blackmon has made history … again.
The MLB record-holder for most RBI’s as a lead-off hitter has signed a sports betting deal with MaximBet, a Denver-based sports betting and casino firm. Blackmon became the first MLB player to sign such a deal.
What does this have to do with Georgia sports betting?
As just noted, Blackmon went to Georiga Tech and is also a devout Christian. For those paying attention, that’s what led to the failure of the most recent sports betting bill in the Peach State.
If Blackmon can bridge that gap, perhaps Georgia lawmakers can follow.
“As I learned more about MaximBet, I knew this absolutely was the right brand for me. MaximBet has really attached itself to the local Colorado community, and I cannot wait to have some fun with MaximBet and surprising fans with incredible ‘money can’t buy’ experiences all season.”Charlie Blackmon
MaximBet describes itself as a “lifestyle sports betting and online casino brand.” As such, they said their choice to partner with Blackmon was based, in part, on the sweet-swinging outfielder’s overall vibe and accomplishments.
“Charlie is one of the most revered Rockies players of all time, and his style and career success makes him a perfect fit for MaximBet. We are thrilled to welcome Charlie to the MaximBet family. We look forward to him hitting it out of the ballpark for us as we continue to grow in Colorado and across the country.”Daniel Graetzer, MaximBet CEO
Religion and gambling don’t mix for Georgia
The irony of the partnership is that Blackmon, a religious man, signed the sports betting deal just weeks after religious groups in Georgia pressured lawmakers to kill a bill that would’ve legalized sports betting.
As Blackmon signs the sports betting deal with MaximBet, it represents an intersection of ideals that are at the core of the Georgia sports betting debate.
Blackmon is a devout Christian and he’s now a ballplayer with sports betting deal. In the Deep South, those two things don’t play well together.
But for Blackmon, there seems to be no conflict.
The same can’t be said for Georgia lawmakers and special interest groups. Back when Blackmon was a pitcher and outfielder for the Yellow Jackets, legalized sports betting was about as likely as the entire Georgia Tech student body unanimously pledging their allegiance to the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
However, 14 years later, the state’s Legislature seemed to be on the cusp of affirming what Blackmon already knew. God-fearing folks could memorize Scripture and the day’s betting lines without any moral conflict.
Religious groups pressure lawmakers
However, that wasn’t the opinion of the Christian Coalition of America and the Southern Baptist Convention. Both organizations put pressure on Republican lawmakers who supported a sports betting bill supported by Democrats.
Rep. Ron Stephens told PlayGeorgia that the religious heat was akin to an uprising. He said some of his fellow lawmakers worried that their mid-term elections were in jeopardy because of their tentative support for sports betting.
Stephens himself is a religious man — a Sunday school teacher whose wife plays the church piano.
The shadow of religious judgment has stymied yet another attempt to legalize sports betting in Georgia, kicking the proverbial can down the road as Georgians continue to pour more than $5 billion a year into betting platforms.
Perhaps lawmakers would do well to follow in the footsteps of Stephens and Blackmon, both of whom prove that you can praise God and place a bet on the moneyline.
Photo by David Zalubowski/Associated Press