The Georgia Sports Betting Alliance is working to legalize online sports betting in the state and has stepped up its efforts to educate lawmakers and the public about the harm done by illegal offshore betting operators.
Although Georgia online sports betting legislation looked like it was dead this legislative session, House Bill 237 was amended to include sports betting language and has worked its way to a possible Senate vote. A sports betting rider was attached to legislation originally designed to establish an official Soap Box Derby in Georgia, effectively stripping the bill of soap box derby language and completely transforming it into an online sports betting bill.
That’s good news to the Sports Betting Alliance, whose mission is to see that states offer legal online sports betting platforms to “give fans a safe and responsible way to bet on games – all while generating significant tax revenue for state and local governments.”
For a state like Georgia, which has no legal gambling outside of the state lottery, the Sports Betting Alliance has a chance to promote the need for safe and legal online sports betting in Georgia.
The Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce, which counts Georgia professional sports teams as members, is leading the effort to bring legal online sports betting to Georgia and is being supported by the Georgia SBA, Sports Betting Alliance spokesperson Nathan Click said in an email.
It starts with education
The Georgia Sports Betting Alliance’s effort mirrors that of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, which has worked since 2021 to show why legal and responsible gaming is needed there. If successful, Texas would be the largest state by population to legalize sports betting.
“We have been taking time to educate lawmakers on the illegal market that is already in Texas and how legalizing and regulating mobile sports betting will protect consumers in Texas,” Texas Sports Betting Alliance spokesperson Cara Gustafson said in an email. “Governor Rick Perry said it best in that it’s not an expansion of gambling, but rather addressing the gambling that is already here.”
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance has ramped up efforts to see online sports betting legalized in the state.
“We believe we have more motivation now than we did when we launched in 2021,” she said. “There is less than 80 days left in the 88th legislative session, so there is still plenty of work to be done, but we remain optimistic on our chances.
“Texas has an opportunity to be a leader in the mobile sports betting market.”
Polls show support for Georgia sports betting
The Sports Betting Alliance wants voters to have the chance to approve online sports betting in their states. It said it would allow fan bases in two rabid sports-loving states to further engage with their favorite teams.
Hopefully, this will allow Georgia bettors to have safe and responsible sports betting markets like other states that have legalized online sports betting. In addition, tax revenue from sports betting in Georgia would help support HOPE scholarships and the state’s pre-K program.
“Poll after poll shows Georgia voters overwhelmingly support sports betting,” Click explained to PlayGeorgia. “They see that the lack of legal options is forcing Georgians to send their money across state lines or use illegal offshore apps that offer no consumer protections and provide no benefits for Georgia communities. Thousands of Georgians have let their legislators know they support sports betting in Georgia, and we will continue to make sure their voices are heard over the coming months.
“Already, Tennesseans, Virginians and Louisiana residents are able to legally and safely bet on games from the comfort of their homes. Georgians should be next.”
The Georgia General Assembly has less than a week before its scheduled close. The Georgia SBA hopes in that time HB 237 can receive a majority vote in the Senate and return to the House for a vote. Should HB 237 make this small window, it would be on to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for a final signature.