- What are some details of the House Bill 86?
- Will state constitutional amendments be made?
A bill to legalize sports betting, House Bill 86 is moving forward in Georgia. The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee voted 20-6 in approval of the bill, and the bill will move forward to the full House for debate.
Some details of the proposal include:
- A mandate that the Georgia Lottery Corporation gives at least six licenses to companies who want to offer sports betting;
- After operators pay out winnings, remaining revenue will be taxed at 10%,
- Operators will pay a $900,000 annual license fee,
- Bettors must be aged 21 or older,
- Wagers can’t be placed on college or high school sports, or things like injuries,
- Funds from state lottery and sports betting activity would go towards HOPE college scholarships and state subsidies for childhood education.
Currently, all major league teams based in Georgia, the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Hawks, the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Dream, are all interested in the new bill. Committee Chair Ron Stephens, who supports the bill said this of the interest shown by professional sports leagues: “It’s for fan participation. As I said earlier, the stands are empty…They believe that fan engagement is what sports betting is all about.”
The bill has moved forward, but questions remain — mainly, will they need to amend state constitution to make the bill happen?
Will they amend the state constitution to push the bill ahead?
In 1992, a voters authorized a state lottery with a state constitution amendment. Some groups involved, like state government lawyers question if the bill is legal without another constitutional amendment. For an amendment to go through, two-thirds of each house in the General Assembly will need to approve the measure, followed by a majority of voters in Georgia.
So, how did the vote go through? The bill went through without asking for testimony from interested parties, despite a number of people who expressed interest in taking part of the process and making amendments. However, this might change.
Georgia joins the trend of chasing tax revenue with sports betting legalization
Georgia, like many other states, is racing to legalize sports betting, particularly after seeing the huge revenue it’s brought to states like New Jersey.
Stephens touches on this, and mentions the fact that residents will still place bets on sports saying “We can legitimize it, if you will, through the lottery. If you’re going to do it offshore, why don’t we collect the revenue here in Georgia?”