Sports Betting Fails in Georgia Legislature’s Final Hours
Legislation to legalize sports betting in Georgia failed again this year at the Gold Dome in Atlanta, as lawmakers concluded 2022’s work early Tuesday.
That means there won’t be any legal sports betting in the Peach State this year.
On Monday, as lawmakers were rushing to finish on the final calendar day of the session, sports betting lobbyists “were still in the halls most of the day,” saying sports wagering had a chance, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“They turned out to be wrong,” the newspaper reported.
Other legislation to expand gaming through a statewide public vote also failed.
“A perennial effort to expand gambling fell by the wayside when a resolution that would have put the question to voters failed to get enough votes to make it out of the House committee that sets the chamber’s calendar,” according to the newspaper.
Though the legislative session officially was set to conclude at midnight on Monday, the final vote didn’t occur until 12:15 a.m. Tuesday. That vote granted legislators a pension increase.
Sports Betting Supporter Retires from Senate
During the Senate floor session on Monday night, some senators who are retiring offered farewell remarks at the front of the chamber. Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, a sports betting proponent, was among those who gave his farewell.
After 22 years in the Senate, Mullis, in an emotional address, urged lawmakers to forge relationships during their time in office. At one point, he became tearful as he recited lyrics to the Burt Bacharach song, “That’s What Friends are For.”
Mullis, whose North Georgia district is near Chattanooga, Tennessee, has said in the past that Georgia residents already are using illegal apps to wager on sports or are driving into states like Tennessee to place bets.
Sports betting proponents in the Georgia General Assembly have argued that this costs the state valuable tax revenue that could go to education and other needs.
Tennessee legalized mobile sports betting in 2020 and ranks among the Top 10 nationwide in amount of money wagered each month. Tennessee does not have brick-and-mortar casinos, but bettors only need to be somewhere within the Volunteer State's boundaries to place a mobile wager.
The effort in Georgia to legalize sports betting has faced opposition over the years from those who contend it can lead to compulsive gambling.
Few SEC States Allow Sports Betting
With the legislative session at an end this year in Georgia, only four states with college sports teams in the powerful Southeastern Conference have legal sports betting. These states are Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.
The conference’s 14 universities are in states from Texas to Florida.
Sports betting has been legalized in Florida, but it is not operational in the state. The Seminole Tribe last year briefly launched a mobile sports betting app in Florida. However, the app has been discontinued in a federal legal dispute.
Sports betting is illegal in Texas, the nation’s second most populous state. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a former University of Arkansas football player, has said legal sports betting is inevitable in Texas.
Before that can occur, a sports wagering bill first must make its way through the next legislative session in Austin and then win approval in a statewide public vote.
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