With legal sports betting in Georgia exiting the 2023 conversation like a batter caught looking at a Spencer Strider slider, the state now enters the ‘hope springs eternal’ stage of sports betting optimism.
With the last-gasp effort of House Bill 237 failing to reach the Senate floor before the end of this year’s legislative session, Georgians once again enter another Braves season without the prospect of legal Georgia sports betting in the near future.
It’s through that disappointing prism that the baseball season begins in Georgia, and though it amounts to mere wish-casting at this moment, it’s worth examining what placing a bet on the Braves at Truist Park may look like down the line.
A retail sportsbook possible at Truist Park?
It seems unlikely, even if the Georgia Legislature decides to get sports betting legislation over the finish line in 2024. Retail sportsbooks didn’t get much traction with lawmakers. In the end, online sports betting seems the most lilkely way forward.
There is a template for it, however, as numerous teams have retail sportsbooks inside their stadiums, including a couple of the Braves’ NL East rivals.
Were the Braves to open a retail sportsbook, a la Nationals Ballpark, fans could expect a walk-up teller and various retail kiosks for placing bets. They’d likely have access to a nice bar and a trendy gastropub. As most in-stadium retail sportsbooks have found, keeping fans in the sportsbook is key to generating business. So, a high table at a glass window overlooking the field could also be in order.
Given Georgia’s hesitancy to entertain retail sports betting, a retail sportsbook accepting wagers at Truist Park feels more Field of Dreams than Moneyball.
As the societal tides continue to turn, however, Major League Baseball certainly has the corporate ties to make retail sports betting at Truist Park an eventual reality.
Online sportsbook partnerships likely
Should Georgia finally decide to make sports betting legal during its 2024 General Assembly, the likeliest look at Truist Park will be an exclusive partnership with an online sportsbook, much like many teams in Major League Baseball already have. Imagine Truist Park’s promenade festooned with sportsbook branding and social media posts touting the team’s official partnership with a specific online sports betting outlet.
Expect sportsbook branding on all the gameday tchotchkes you’re handed as you enter the gate: Braves mini bats with DraftKings emblazoned on the barrel or Braves sunscreen with a FanDuel emblem slapped on.
Partnerships like these net a franchise millions of dollars in advertising revenue. In 2018, the American Gaming Association estimated that $4.2 billion in revenue awaited the four major sports leagues in a robust sports betting environment. Depending on how a team chooses to allocate its financial income, this revenue benefits a team like the Atlanta Braves that plays in a league without a salary cap.
The Braves have seen a cash injection into their annual payroll after winning the 2021 World Series, and a partnership with the gaming industry could only bolster its operational abilities.
No legal wagers at Truist Park this season
Circling back to the reality: with the Georgia House and Senate’s failure to adopt sports betting legislation during this year’s General Assembly, there will be no legal wagering on Braves games at Truist Park this season – and, perhaps, not until the 2025 season at the soonest. The Georgia Legislature evaluated six separate bills and decided none was worth advancing, extending the drought forecast for Georgia’s sports betting desert in the South.
Photo Credit: Harkim Wright Sr. / AP