Georgia legislators have clung to their narrative that legalizing sports gambling in the state will invite an influx of crime. It was one of the opponents’ key talking points during this year’s legislative session. In fact, the opinion stood directly against bills that propose a pathway for legal sports gambling in the state.
Unfortunately, those sports betting bills ended up failing. This means that Georgia will be without additional legal gambling options, at least until the legislature meets again next year.
It’s an oft-repeated reason for barring legalized gambling, and a predictable boogeyman to justify the lack of moving forward. Put a different way, it’s a cynical – yet, reliable – attempt to cloak a position as one buoyed on public safety, when in fact it’s based purely on moral grounds.
The folks who are steadfastly against GA sports betting legalization simply don’t approve of it, period. However, one doesn’t have to look far to see where their argument falls apart.
Underground gambling rings and crime go hand-in-hand
The recent deadly shooting in southwest Atlanta after a gambling dispute serves as another tragic example of the underbelly that thrives in the absence of a legal, legitimate forum to place bets. Still, under investigation, the initial report is that a fight over gambling at an apartment complex led to the shooting.
At the height of the struggle, a 32-year-old man was killed.
For further reference, three individuals were sentenced in 2021 for running illegal books in Burke County. It was a long-running operation that netted upwards of $500K. And involved an array of money laundering stops to shield (and legitimize) the earnings. There’s also the recent Lowndes County bust where drugs, weapons, and cash were tied to an illegal gambling ring.
Choose your anecdote – and there are many – but the facts speak for themselves: Legitimate gambling doesn’t attract crime, but illegal gambling sure does.
Where there’s a vacuum between supply and demand, you can bet that nefarious types will fill it. That continues to happen under the noses of Georgia politicians who would rather cling to outmoded arguments based on an alleged moral compass than decisions tethered to reality and the public barometer.
Politicians used outdated arguments to fail Georgians
Georgians want legal gambling expansion.
They want to spend their autumn Saturdays watching the SEC and putting together a parlay, should they choose to. Heck, maybe they want to put money on the July Fourth Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Where they spend their money should be of no concern to those in power as long as it falls within the legal realm.
Georgia’s legislature so far has forced them to take those activities elsewhere, and that elsewhere often involves crime. If it seems a bit backward, it’s because it is.
Georgians will not have the opportunity to place legal, legitimate sports gambling bets until after the 2023 legislative session, at the earliest. It’s an unnecessary delay borne of tired old thinking, from tired old politicians, based on tired old arguments continually disproven.
While the legislature yet again failed the majority of the state that backs casinos and sports gambling, it’s emboldened the crooks it claims it seeks to protect them from.
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