Georgia sports betting may finally be on the horizon.
A group of 11 Georgia state senators have introduced a bill that would bring sports betting to the Peach State. The construction of the bill means that Georgia sports betting could be put into law without a ballot initiative.
The bill, SB 57, is called the Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act. The legislation would entrust the Georgia Lottery with sports betting regulation, which would be carried out by a new Georgia Sports Betting Commission. This means no amendments to the state’s Constitution would be necessary in order for sports betting in Georgia to be legalized.
Who could get a Georgia sports betting license?
The Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act calls for up to 18 Type 1 licenses. Specifically, the proposed legislation makes the following entities eligible for a Type 1 sports betting license:
- (A) Any professional sports team, or its designee;
- (B) A sports governing body that holds one or more sanctioned annual golf tournaments at the highest level of professional golf in this state as determined by the commission and one or more other sanctioned annual golf tournaments in the state;
- (C) The owner of a facility in this state that has held an annual invitational golf tournament for professional and amateur golfers for at least 30 years;
- (D) The owner of a facility located in this state that hosts auto races on a national association for stock car auto racing national tour or a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of the owner of such a facility, if the owner is a nonprofit corporation or nonprofit organization;
- (E) The owner of a facility located in this state that has hosted races on an international motor sports car tour in addition to other motor sports events for at least 30 years, or its designee; and
- (F) The Georgia Lottery Corporation.
In short, all professional sports teams would be eligible for a sports betting license. Major golf tours and auto racing associations could pursue them, too, and so could facilities that host major events in those sports.
Partnerships with major online sportsbooks seem likely
The Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act reserves nine Type 1 licenses for the entities listed above. The entities would be allowed to partner with online sports betting providers, such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM.
Applicants for Type 1 licenses would pay a $100,000 application fee, plus annual $1 million licensing fees. Operators would be charged $10,000 on application and annual licensing fees of $100,000. Under the proposed legislation, online sports betting revenues would be taxed at a 20% rate.
Retail sports betting could be on its way, too
If you’d prefer to bet in-person, the Georgia Sports Betting Integrity Act allows for that, too. Type 2 licenses would allow retailers to provide self-service or clerk-operated sports betting machines.
The act says Georgia will not limit Type 2 licenses across the state, meaning hundreds of machines could spring up around the state. The legislation does state that Type 2 licensees will be limited to two terminals at each place of business.
When could Georgia legalize sports betting?
The language of the bill indicates a lengthy legalization process is ahead. SB 57 indicates sports betting operations could begin in state Fiscal Year 2025, and it specifically states licenses will not be issued or awarded before Sept. 1, 2025.
This may seem like a long wait, but it’s not out of line with what’s happened in other states. Ohio, for instance, had its sports betting bill introduced in early-2021. It was signed into law in December of 2021, and online and retail sports betting launched on Jan. 1, 2023.
All of this, of course, assumes this Georgia sports betting bill passes. This isn’t the first time a piece of sports betting legislation has been crafted in the Peach State. A pair of state senate efforts to expand gambling were quietly defeated during the last legislative sessions.
Sports betting is legal in Tennessee, Georgia’s neighbor to the northwest. It was also briefly legal in Florida. Georgia’s neighbor to the south launched sports betting in late-2021, but that year’s Florida gaming compact was ruled to be in violation of federal law. A D.C. Court of Appeals ruling is expected later this year.