It’s no secret that the National Football League is foremost activity preferred by sports bettors in the United States. Data from GeoComply, a major geofencing security platform in the industry, reveals that Georgians are champing at the bit to wager on pro football.
During Week 1 of the NFL season, GeoComply recorded 92,000 geolocation check-ins from would-be sports bettors in Georgia, from 13,000 account holders. That figure represents the number of people inside Georgia state borders who made logged onto their app to place a bet, or created a new account with a sports betting application.
Sports betting in Georgia is currently not legal, but that hasn’t stopped football and sports crazy fans from opening accounts with sportsbook sites and apps like industry leaders FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars.
Among states that do not have a legal sports betting market, Georgia is one of the most populous. According to GeoComply, Georgia ranked third among states without legal sportsbooks in terms of geolocation checks and active accounts with sports betting operators. Georgia is also surrounded by states with sports betting: Tennessee and North Carolina to the north, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. However, Alabama and Florida, which directly border GA, do not have active sports betting as of yet. This portion of the U.S. is somewhat of an oasis of opportunity for the sportsbooks trying to acquire market share.
Georgia still grappling with legalization of sports betting
Last legislative season, lawmakers introduced five bills that could have legalized sports betting in some form. However, obstacles have muddied the efforts by supporters to get to a law passed. At the core of the problem is whether or not the state constitution must be amended to pass such legislation.
The GA State Senate defeated a sports betting bill by a lopsided vote of 39-17, and now there is doubt as to whether that body can get enough support behind a bill as it is constituted currently. The State House may be the most practical method for pushing through legislation.
Laws in Georgia require a two-thirds majority vote to pass an amendment to the constitution, which could make it problematic to get enough support for a sports betting bill.
Also at task is the matter of narrowing the focus in the Legislature: In the past the lawmakers have tried to pass bills that include casino, parimutuel and sports betting measures. Public opinion polls show that many Georgians favor legal sports betting, but how the state will get there is unclear.
Sports betting success in North Carolina may push GA
More than 30 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have legal sports betting markets. Sports fans in every corner of the country can place wagers on sports, and with every passing month and new sports season, it becomes an accepted reality. That fact will likely increase the pressure on Georgia’s lawmakers to make it legal in the Peach State.
If that’s not enough of an incentive, consider the tax revenue being lost. One estimate from GeoComply suggests that GA could see as much as $89 million in tax revenue from gross gaming revenue annually. That’s the highest figure among the six states that GeoComply includes in its recent NFL Week 1 report.
Nearby North Carolina faced similar challenges in getting a sports betting bill passed. But earlier this year, that state got the job done. The NC sports betting market will open within the first few months of January in 2024, perhaps as soon as the next Super Bowl.
Georgia, home to the Bulldogs, the two-time defending college football champions, is football crazy, whether professional or NCAA. Passing a sports betting bill, which could lead to tens of millions in tax revenue to fund state programs, should be a priority for lawmakers. The next GA state legislative session begins in January.
AP Photo/Danny Karnik