The Georgia Senate moved first with Senate Bill 57, and the House has now followed suit by filing House Bill 380, a new bill that would legalize sports betting in the state.
In a similar fashion as SB 57, the proposed bill would not require voters to approve a constitutional amendment. Georgia sports betting would be run by the Georgia Lottery.
This legislative workaround now appears to be the modus operandi for legalizing sports betting in the State of Georgia.
HB 380 filed by Republican lawmaker
The bill, filed by state Representative Marcus Wiedower, R-Watkinsville, also has garnered the support of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. The text outlines two separate avenues for establishing legal sports betting in Georgia. The state would award up to 16 Type 1 licenses for online sports betting businesses and Type 2 licenses for in-person venues in the form of sports betting kiosks.
HB 380 sets a 15% tax rate on Georgia sports betting profits. This is slightly lower than SB 57, which contains a 20% sports betting tax rate.
Outlets seeking a Type 1 license must submit a non-refundable $100,000 application fee and an annual fee of $1 million, should a license be awarded. Type 2 applicants are slated to pay a non-refundable application fee of $10,000 and an annual fee of $100,000 once licensed to operate.
The bill differs slightly from Senate Bill 57. That legislation is focused primarily on issuing licenses to existing operations such as professional sports teams and annual golf tournaments. HB 380 focuses more on online sports betting. However, it still carves out legal avenues for brick-and-mortar establishments and Georgia sports teams.
Bill has support from Metro
Marshall Guest, Senior VP of the Metro Chamber’s public policy and public affairs, had this to say:
“This legislation would legalize responsible sports betting in Georgia and generate additional revenue for education under the Georgia Lottery. We look forward to working with Governor Brian Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones, House Speaker Jon Burns, and the Georgia General Assembly to secure this huge win for education investment in our state.”Athens Banner-Herald
That’s a ringing endorsement from one of the most influential business bodies in the state. We’ll see if it moves the needle.
SB 57 receives first hearing
There was action in the other chamber today, as well. SB 57 received its first hearing in the Georgia Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tourism. This is the first hurdle the bill will need to clear prior to consideration by the entire body.
While no major news emerged from the hearing, there were some interesting notes. This includes debate surrounding the reported opposition to SB 57’s provision that would establish Georgia horse racing venues.
Horse racing is definitely one of the more hot-button components in the world of sports betting. While it’s likely the bill clears committee once voting begins next week, you can expect spirited discussion on horse racing and the potential for filed amendments to strip that language from the final bill.
There are now two bills in front of their respective chambers that would legalize sports betting in Georgia. Neither requires a voter-backed ballot initiative to amend the constitution, which will provide legislators with options to weigh as the bills work through the process.