Sports Betting Alliance Confident Georgia Will Legalize Betting This Year

Written By Phil West on February 21, 2024
Photo of Georgia capitol and Atlanta skyline for story on advocates being confident Georgia will legalize sports betting this year

An advocate for the sports betting bill up for consideration by the Georgia General Assembly believes it would be a boon to the state’s pre-k education coffers.

Sports Betting Alliance’s Jen Ryan told WMAZ-TV that lawmakers are taking a principled approach on sports betting legislation.

“We think we have a strong piece of legislation that is not introducing any new streams of gambling. What it’s doing is safeguarding it, putting in rules, regs, ensuring that no one under 21 is doing it and capturing revenue.”

Her organization estimates that “more than $140 million in additional tax revenue could be allocated for Georgia pre-k education every year.”

Senate-passed bill currently sits in House

The road to legalizing Georgia sports betting has been a long one. Lawmakers filed the first sports betting bills in the Senate during the 2020 legislative session. Four years later, proponents believe the time is finally right to make it happen.

According to its website, the Sports Betting Alliance is an advocacy group that seeks to create “a consumer-protected and transparent online sports betting market in all 50 states.” Its mission statement is simple.

“We believe customers in all 50 states should enjoy the benefits of safe and legal sports betting with consumer protections and responsible gaming tools that do not exist on the illegal market.”

That’s how Ryan sees Senate Bill 386 operating. The bill is currently at the Georgia House of Representatives after passing the Senate earlier this month. An amendment tacked on by the author of a competing Senate bill requires approval via a voter referendum in the upcoming November election if the House passes the bill.

Ryan believes the measure will appeal to voters.

“If there is an easy, safe, legal option where hopefully the revenue is going to the right place like it would be here, data shows consumers will make the switch.”

Georgia losing out on more than just tax money from betting

Should sports betting be legalized, Georgia sports fans wouldn’t have to leave the state to place a sports bet. Ethan Fooshee, a local sports betting enthusiast, told WMAZ that it isn’t just betting money that’s leaving the state.

“Obviously in Georgia, I can’t make a lot of outcome bets, so I make as many of those as I can as soon as I leave the state. Luckily, you go to Chattanooga, go have a nice dinner or something, go have a good time and then also toss in a couple of sports bets.”

With pro sports teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and MLS, as well as college teams playing in the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference, not to mention the annual Masters golf tournament, Georgia has a diverse group of sports fans.

Sports betting would likely flourish in the state should legislators – and voters – make it happen.

Photo by AP Photo/Steve Helber
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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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