You won’t be placing bets on the Kentucky Derby in Georgia any time soon. That’s due to the State Senate failing to achieve a two-thirds majority on Senate Resolution 131.
A bill that would have permitted a state referendum on legalized horse betting to move forward.
The Senate voted in favor of the measure 33-20 in a bipartisan fashion. However, a supermajority was required to advance the measure to the House.
Had it passed, the Senate Resolution would have put the fate of horse betting in the hands of Georgia voters via ballot amendment. Instead, members of the Senate made that decision for them.
Senate Resolution 131 was paired alongside Senate Bill 212, a bill that would have paved the way for the establishment of up to five horse racing tracks throughout the state.
Senator Jeff Mullis, a Republican from Chickamauga, flirted with setting up a second vote on the measure. But later abandoned that idea before the deadline for the measure to advance out of the chamber.
The debate on legalized horse betting has been a frequent one in the Georgia legislature for years. This is the closest it’s been to becoming a reality. But ultimately, Georgia voters are unable to vote on the proposed measure this year.
Out-of-state options for Georgians
So legal horse betting in Georgia will not come any time soon. But that’s not to say there aren’t options available for those looking to place a wager.
The caveat? You must be willing to travel out of state. Both Florida and Alabama have legal gambling on horse races and there are several venues to place bets.
Alabama, unlike Florida, also permits legal gambling with online racebooks.
Georgia gamblers, have some extra money in your pocket and feeling a vacation? Our neighbors to the west and south may fit the bill.
Georgia’s missed economic opportunity
Gambling makes money — period. Legal horse betting would mean an economic boost and a new tax revenue stream for the state.
By failing to advance the measure to the full Georgia House for consideration, the state likely missed out on an additional $1.28 billion in tax revenue a year, per a study completed by Georgia Southern University. Legal horse betting would have generated approximately 15,800 jobs over ten years, according to the same study.
Additionally, legal horse betting could open up other economic avenues of the horse industry to GA such as attracting horse breeders and trainers.
The road ahead, there’s still hope for Georgia
It’s unclear what the next steps will be regarding legalized horse betting in Georgia, or if the deliberative body has the appetite to revive the measure down the line.
Opponents of the measure cited the standard reasoning for their “no,” votes on a sports betting bill, even though Georgia rakes in millions each year through its state-run Lottery.
There’s still some hope for those looking to drop some dollars on sports in the state of Georgia, as Senate Bill 142, a sports betting measure that’s already received Senate approval, is still working its way through the House.
As a wave of sports betting and horse betting measures have swept across the country of late, it stands to reason that this isn’t the last we’ll hear of the Georgia legislature weighing the odds of making it a reality in the state.
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