Georgia Looks To Build On Online Gaming ‘Progress’ in 2021

Georgia Looks To Build On Online Gaming ‘Progress’ in 2021

A bill authorizing the Georgia Lottery to operate online sports betting made it through the Senate Special Judiciary Committee in June before stalling. That was seen as progress in Georgia.

That the bill was revived by the committee, and the reason behind it, seemed to suggest there was hope in Georgia.

There are four bills for 2021 and sports betting has strong support from the professional sports teams in Georgia. That said, the prospects of online casinos or online poker are dim as there appear no plans by legislatures to move to legalize either.

CHECK OUT: 9 Predictions for US Sports Betting & Online Gambling In 2021

Why Georgia?

Georgia currently has four gambling bills — SR821, SB403, HR378, HB570 —pending in the state legislature (two House, two Senate).

Each of these, which could legalize sports betting, parimutuel horse racing and casino resorts, were either introduced or assigned to a committee this spring prior to the current coronavirus pandemic and could see possible review resumption once the current crisis has subsided.

SB403, whose primary sponsor is state Sen. Burt Jones, a Republican, would legalize mobile online sports betting (run by the Georgia Lottery) and allow the formation of a new seven-member government regulatory body called the Georgia Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Commission.

In the past, gambling measures have not received the much-needed supermajority to pass in either the state’s House or Senate. If one of them does actually make it through and Gov. Brian Kemp puts his signature on it, fellow Georgians would make the final decision, as changing the law likely requires a constitutional amendment.

What to Expect in Georgia

But that question is up for debate. Jones said last March before his legislation died that he believes the General Assembly can legalize sports betting without changing the state constitution.

That question alone could endanger legislation in Georgia. But expect lawmakers to look at every possible revenue stream, including sports betting, in 2021. With four bills pre-filed, lawmakers are serious about getting Georgia in the sports betting game.

2021 Forecast

Partly cloudy. Georgia’s General Assembly begins its 2021 session on Jan. 11 and although there is a sliver of optimism in a state that doesn’t have commercial casinos, it’s still a pretty conservative state. Since the sports betting market would likely have to be all mobile, Georgia could look at Tennessee’s all-mobile market, which posted $130 million in handle in its first month, for incentive.