Senate-Passed Sports Betting Bill Stalled In Georgia House Committee

Written By Adam Hensley on February 27, 2024 - Last Updated on February 28, 2024
A picture of a stalled car for a story about a Georgia sports betting bill that has no traction in a House committee.

A Georgia sports betting bill passed through the Senate earlier this month and is now in the hands of a House committee.

Senate Bill 386 remains pending in the Georgia House’s Higher Education Committee.

Here’s a rundown of the bill, why it needs to go through the Higher Education Committee and what’s next for Georgia sports betting.

What’s all in SB 386?

SB 386 would legalize Georgia sports betting. Under the bill, professional and college sports wagering would be available to Georgia residents, including bets on in-state college teams. Prop betting on college athletics, though, would remain illegal. Georgia could issue up to 16 online licenses under SB 386.

Sports betting revenue would be taxed at 20%, a big selling point when it comes to the state reaping some of the benefits. Lawmakers such as state Sen. Bo Hatchett and state Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, along with Atlanta’s professional sports teams, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones all support the bill.

SB 386 originally would have bypassed the need for a voter referendum on sports betting. It would have amended Georgia’s existing gaming law to allow sports betting. The Georgia Lottery would regulate the new sports betting industry.

But senators voted 34-7 earlier this month to ask Georgia voters to approve the amendment before it can become law. Now, lawmakers must pass a resolution with two-thirds support of each chamber for the measure to be on the ballot in November.

Why does SB 386 need to go through the Higher Education Committee?

SB 386 must pass through the House’s Higher Education Committee because sports betting tax dollars would go toward education. Specifically, tax revenue would help educational programs like the HOPE scholarship and pre-k education, Jones said earlier this year.

“We are one step closer to providing tens of millions of dollars to education funding for the next generations of Georgia.”

Jen Ryan of the Sports Betting Alliance told WMAZ-TV recently that “more than $140 million in additional tax revenue could be allocated for Georgia pre-k education every year.”

There are 26 members of the Higher Education Committee. Sixteen are Republicans and 10 are Democrats.

When will SB 386 be heard by the committee?

There’s no clear timetable on when the Higher Education Committee will hear SB 386. It doesn’t appear that any decision will be made right away.

Rahul Bali, who covers Georgia politics for WABE News, posted an update on X on Feb. 14.

“Senate Bill 386 is in the House Higher Education Committee. There does not seem to be a rush since it has already crossed over to the House.”

SB 386 needs to pass through the Higher Education Committee and attain the votes needed to pass the whole House. If amendments are not added, Gov. Brian Kemp must sign it to get the question before voters in the fall.

Photo by PlayGeorgia
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, who currently works for the USA Today Network. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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