New Bill Proposes Sports Betting Legalization in Georgia

A new bill proposing the legalization of sports betting in Georgia was introduced to the state House of Representatives yesterday. Sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens, the bill proposes legalization of sports betting through Georgia’s Lottery and a 16% gambling tax.

HB 86 Proposes Sports Betting Legalization in Georgia

At the start of the 2021 legislative season, the sports betting legalization in Georgia receives another chance. A bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Stephens was introduced in the state House of Representatives yesterday. The bill calls for the legalization of sports betting, allowing at least six betting operators to launch the activity. House Bill 86 proposes that the legalization is completed through the Georgia Lottery, which would also be in charge of licensing.

Besides Mr. Stephens, the bill is also supported by Reps. Lee Hawkins of Gainesville, Matt Dollar of Marietta, and Shelly Hutchinson of Snellville. Furthermore, the three Republicans are also co-sponsoring the proposal. HB 86 is also received the support of two Democrats: Reps. Al Williams of Midway and Billy Mitchell of Stone Mountain.

Considering that the new bill calls for the legalization of sports betting through Georgia’s Lottery, this makes the proposal a statute change instead of a constitutional amendment. This way, if the bill goes forward it would need the approval of Governor Brian Kemp before it comes into effect. As a statute change and not a constitutional amendment, if the bill is approved, it would have immediate effect.

Taxes to Help Georgia’s Education System

According to the bill proposed by Mr. Stephens, the six sports betting operators that would be allowed to offer sports betting will pay 16% tax on their adjusted gross revenues. An initial $50,000 licensing fee would be applicable for each operator. The bill also calls for an annual $900,000 renewal fee for the operators. HB 86 proposes a restriction of wagering on high school or college games. If the bill is accepted, both visitors and Georgians located within the state borders would be able to place a legal bet as long as they are age 21 or older.

Commenting on the subject, Mr. Stephens acknowledged that there are Georgians who are already spending money on gambling. However, by enabling legalized sports betting, the state would be “capturing the tax” that can then be allocated toward education and the HOPE Scholarship program. In fact, if the state legalizes and regulates the activity, it is going to reduce the flow of taxpayers’ money that go toward illegal or offshore operators.

Four professional teams from Atlanta showed support for the initiative. The Hawks, the Braves, Falcons, and Atlanta United have joined forces to create Georgia’s Professional Sports Integrity Alliance. With this move, the team’s ultimate goal is to collaborate with the state legislature on the path toward legalizing online sports betting.

Focusing on neighboring Tennessee, we see that sports betting already started generating tax revenue. For its first month of operation, in November, sportsbooks generated $131.4 million in sports betting handle. Once the sports operators have returned $118.2 million in payouts to bettors, the state received $2,4 million in taxes in only a month.

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