Sports betting in Georgia, gambling legalization efforts dead for 2022
Posted: April 5, 2022, 2:28 a.m.
Last update on: April 5, 2022, 03:01h.
Sports betting and casino gambling in Georgia will remain banned in the state for at least a year. That’s the verdict after the General Assembly concluded its 2022 legislative session yesterday.
A House committee last week passed two measures aimed at ending Georgia’s longstanding ban on most gambling. Aside from the Georgia Lottery, the state is absent from commercial and tribal casinos, sports betting, pari-mutuel, and iGaming.
State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) believes Georgia should dissolve its anti-gambling stance. He hopes the state will reap the financial benefits of regulating sports betting, and perhaps full-fledged casinos with slot machines and table games. But most of his fellow Republicans continue to think otherwise.
Lawmakers fall back on gambling measures
The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee supported Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 last week.
The resolution sought to ask residents if they support amending the Georgian Constitution to allow “sports betting and other forms of betting and gambling”. SB142 depended on the resolution, as it would have formed the Georgia Sports Betting Commission to govern those bets had the Georgians approved the resolution.
But alas, voters will not give their blessing to the constitutional amendment motion, as the issue will not reach the November ballot. With the Georgia General Assembly adjourned for the year, motions on the games were shelved.
Stephens tried to win over his fellow Republicans by pointing out that gambling laws would have primarily only protected consumers and generated new tax revenue for the state. The longtime politician says sports betting and other forms of gambling already exist in Georgia through unregulated offshore channels.
“[Gambling] is on your phone. It’s an app, but the money is going overseas,” Stephens pointed out. The chairman of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee said his gambling bills are merely measures to regulate and tax an activity taking place in the state.
Stephens’ opinion, however, was not embraced by enough of his fellow House lawmakers to lead to a floor vote on the resolution.
Fierce opposition remains
State lawmakers in the House quickly rejected the committee’s support for gambling laws.
“It’s not something the state of Georgia wants its approval on,” Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange) said. “We are the number one state in which to do business. We don’t need that. This is what people who are desperate do, and this state is doing extremely well.
Jeanne Seaver, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, agrees.
The game will destroy our state and all that it entails,” Seaver said. “You saw what it did in New Jersey. I don’t want to see Georgia become the new Chicago.
In the coming years, Chicago will become a major gambling market with an integrated resort in downtown Windy City, as well as five smaller regional casinos in the Chicago suburbs of Waukegan, Rockford, South Suburbs, Williamson County and Danville.
Georgia is one of only four states that does not have commercial or tribal casinos, pari-mutuel, racetrack gaming, online gaming, or sports betting. Only Hawaii, Utah and Vermont can also make this claim.