Louisiana’s Gambling Windfall Shows Georgia What It’s Missing Out On

Written By Carter Breazeale on July 13, 2022
Georgia Legal Gambling Blocked From Ballot

You’re well aware (and likely well worn out on) the adage, ‘Elections have consequences,’ – but what about the inverse? Is it also true that lack of elections have consequences? Well, yes. A representative’s failure in accepting certain legislation keeps Georgia legal gambling off the ballot for voters to decide upon.

As a result, the legislature has once again handcuffed Georgians to the reality of sports betting remaining illegal in the state.

In this, the House and Senate knowingly take the decision out of the hands of Georgian voters. Moreover, they miss out on a boatload of revenue that’s usable in myriad ways to improve state functions. Refusal of SR 135 and SB 142 means a continued barren landscape for bettors in Georgia.

It’s a short-sighted move that will cost the state muchneeded cash. Louisiana legalized online sports gambling this year, and they’ve been raking in revenue since the outset. It’s the Southern template for what the state of Georgia is missing out on.

Big bucks in the Bayou State

Sports gambling went live in Louisiana in 2022, and it’s been a revenue windfall for the state. Legislators are unable to estimate the annual tax revenue from sports betting, but still expect a gross figure between $237 and $332 million.

That could result in a $30 to $48 million return in tax revenue each year. The Bayou State is looking to put the funds to good use.

Much like the Georgia Lottery, Louisiana’s current plan for all gambling tax revenue will fund the state education system. Private casinos and racebooks are another story, however.

The majority of tax revenue from private casinos and racebooks is currently not destined for any specific use, like education funding. Instead, this money’s heading for general state use, such as local government funding and disability services.

25 percent of tax revenue from private gambling sources goes to early childhood education. An additional 15 percent funnels to services to address gambling addiction.

Noteworthy: unclaimed winnings will be utilized to cover the cost of medical exams for rape victims. The state of Louisiana has a backlog of over 1,000 untested rape kits – some dating back to the 1980s.

As of March, mobile and online sports gambling in Louisiana had brought in nearly $400 million in wagers, eclipsing the state’s traditional gambling platforms like video gaming and riverboat casinos by over $100 million in that span.

If it feels like Georgia is missing out, it’s because it is.

Top Georgia sports figures support gambling legalization

Despite the Georgia legislature failing to adopt any sports gambling legislation during its 2022 term, many of the prominent decision makers among the state’s major sports teams continue to support the movement.

Atlanta Braves President, Derek Schiller, was one of the first to publicly convey his disappointment that legalized sports gambling would not become a reality for Georgians in the near future. Atlanta Falcons President and CEO, Rich McKay, shared a similar dismay recently, citing the boon to fan engagement that sports gambling provides:

I see it as only upside to the state as far as revenue goes. And for us, the upside is fan engagement.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution

A revenue boost for the state and more fans in the seats? It’s no shock with those two factors alone why the state’s top sports brass would be fully embracing legalized gambling in Georgia.

A massive missed opportunity

Prior to its failure in the legislature, SB 142 was estimated to pull in $360 million in annual gross revenue for the state.

After receiving a middling C+ on its 2019 Infrastructure Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers – with particularly low marks for public transit and wastewater infrastructure – Georgia could certainly use an influx of tax revenue to address the day-to-day areas that impact Georgians.

Elections certainly have consequences, but even more insidious is a legislature that won’t allow them to take place.

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Carter Breazeale

Carter Breazeale is a freelance journalist with a focus on sports, business, and the business of sports. An Atlanta native currently residing in Orlando, Carter graduated from The University of Central Florida. Since 2018 he has covered the Atlanta Falcons for SBNation's site, The Falcoholic.

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