Sports Betting Bill Assigned To Georgia House’s Higher Education Committee

Written By Phil West on February 8, 2024
Hands raised during vote in Georgia House Higher Education Committee, to which the sports betting bill was recently assigned

After the Georgia Senate passed a sports betting bill last week, it’s now moved over to the House — specifically, to the 26-member Higher Education Committee that will help decide its fate.

Senate Bill 386, which would authorize sports betting in Georgia, passed through the State Senate by a 35-15 vote last week— but with an amendment that could affect its prospects. The bill acquired an amendment requiring approval via a voter referendum in the upcoming November election. Originally, SB386 would have bypassed the need for voter approval.

In fact, SB386 received industry support over another sports wagering bill, Senate Bill 172, which required voter approval for passage in its original language.

The bill, should it pass in its current form, would tax sports betting revenue at 20%. From that — which bill author Sen. Clint Dixon claimed would raise $100 million in revenue – 20% would go toward funding pre-K and the HOPE Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship program funded by the Georgia Lottery.

There’s also a question about whether the bill requires a state constitutional amendment to pass. Some have argued that one is required to legalize Georgia sports betting, while others argue it’s permitted under the powers that al the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

Who is on the Higher Education Committee?

The Higher Education Committee is a majority-Republican committee, with 16 GOP members and 10 Democrats. Both the committee chair, Rep. Charles Martin, Jr., and the vice chair, Mitchell Scoggins, are Republicans. According to Ballotpedia, other Republican House members on the committee include Carter Barrett, Dale Washburn, Clay Pirkle, Karen Mathiak, David Knight, Trey Kelley, Rick Jasperse, Tim Fleming, Ginny Ehrhart, Matt Dubnik, Rob Leverett, Katie Dempsey, Kasey Carpenter, and Marcus Wiedower.

Democrats on the committee include Samuel Park, Angela Moore, Edna Jackson, Betsy Holland, Lydia Glaize, Scott Holcomb, Jasmine Clark, Rhonda Burnough, Patty Bentley, and Imani Barnes.

En route to passage, the bill would need to advance through committee, succeed in a full House vote, and then acquire the signature of another Republican, Gov. Brian Kemp.

What happens next?

According to the Georgia House website, the bill advanced to the Second Readings phase on Wednesday. The Higher Education Committee does not currently have a meeting scheduled. It currently has 36 bills on its docket, although not all are active.

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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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