Earlier this week, at the time he introduced a new vision for sports wagering in Georgia, an influential state senator argued that local voters should be given the chance to decide whether to make sports betting legal in the state.
Lately, sports teams executives in Georgia have been urging local lawmakers to make betting on sports legal, noting that the Georgia Lottery was approved by state voters many years ago and the expansion of the local gambling sector with a new service could bring additional money flows for various educational programs.
Bill Cowsert, Chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, has shared different plans for the extra revenue in mind, saying that the legalization of sports betting as part of the Georgia Lottery would be deceptive if local residents are not given the chance to vote on the issue. Back in 1992, state voters passed a constitutional amendment under which the Lottery was authorized, and that was the one and only objective of the bill.
Mr. Cowsert made his remarks mere hours after a new bill seeking to legalize sports betting in the state as part of the lottery without a special constitutional amendment was unveiled by Representative Marcus Wiedower to the House Higher Education Committee. The proposed piece of legislation is called House Bill 380.
Bipartisan Support of Proposed Sports Betting Measure Hard to Be Found in Georgia Legislature
According to the sponsor of the new piece of legislation seeking to legalize betting on sports, Georgia and its residents are ripe for the new form of gambling.
He explained that his bill does not change the way how lottery money is allocated but only seeks to add online sports betting services in the state, after dropping a previous proposal for the legalization of the new form of gambling in physical locations, too.
This is not the first time when a member of the state Legislature is trying to expand Georgia’s gambling industry. So far, some lawmakers have tried doing so but none of the efforts has been successful since local voters gave the green light to the lottery back in 1992.
None of the proposed pieces of legislation has been passed by Legislature committees as required by law, but the legalization of sports betting services, or at least some form of sports betting, seems inevitable. So far, more than 30 states across the US have authorized the new form of gambling, with some of the states only permitting in-person sports betting, while others have already legalized both in-person and online wagering on sports.
A constitutional amendment would surely be the most difficult road to legalization and enactment of the proposed measure, as it would need a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers of Georgia’s General Assembly to pass, and then the support of a majority of local voters as part of a statewide ballot. This would also mean that the bill will need bipartisan support in the Legislature because Republicans do not have a two-thirds majority in either one of the chambers.
This, however, would not be that easy because some members of the Republican party refuse to back a gambling-related bill on moral grounds.