There will be a public hearing on Thursday, set up by the Georgia House of Representatives’ Special Committee on Economic Growth, to touch on the subject of sports betting in the state. The hearing will also deal with other issues of casino gaming and horse racing in Georgia.
The special committee has three co-chairmen, and they will be at the hearing. One of them is Rep. Ron Stephens, who is the main sponsor of a 2019 bill that would legalize sports wagering in Georgia.
In the fall of 2019, the state’s lawmakers began to discuss legal sports betting in the state. In an open letter, the four professional sports teams in the state voiced their support of legal sports betting.
Those teams, who are all based in Atlanta, are Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, but there was no mention in the letter from the major Georgia colleges.
Ed Clark, who is the Atlanta Motor Speedway President, showed some concept plans in October to the committee, which would bring together a casino and horse racing track. The property would be in congruence with an entertainment venue, at a cost of $1 billion, that would include 85,000 square feet of space for casino gaming.
Besides NASCAR races that the Atlanta Motor Speedway hosts, it also hosts other major events such as the Atlanta Air Show and Georgia State Fair.
Sports Betting May Be On The Way
The Georgia Office of Legislative Counsel had their opinion released in October of last year that had a language that showed a trail for legislation for sports betting coming from a Georgia amendment. Two-thirds approval would be needed from both the General Assembly, which has 120 members and the State Senate, which has 37 members.
After that, for the bill to become a law, the majority of Georgia residents would have to vote it into action.
Brandon Beach would be the probable sponsor of a bill going forward to the Georgia Senate, considering he chaired a study committee that looked into various types of betting in the state. He made the inquiry to the Office of Legislative Counsel if betting issues could pass by a majority of a vote or if additional processes were needed from the state legislature.
HB 570 is the bill that Ron Stephens was the main sponsor of, and it would legalize sports betting in Georgia for not only pro sports but for collegiate ones as well. The tax rate on sports betting would be to the tune of 10 percent.
Brian Kemp is the Governor of Georgia, and he inquired agencies in the Peach State for cuts in the budgets of four percent in the 2020 fiscal year, and then six percent in 2021. This may have sparked the want for legal sports, casinos, and horse racing betting in the state.
Atlanta is a major metropolitan city and would be a leader in the region in terms of sports wagering. Only two states that border Georgia — Tennessee and North Carolina — currently allow for legal sports wagering.
North Carolina only has retail sports betting at its two land-based casinos that are operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. One of the casinos is near Asheville, NC, and the other is close to the border of Tennessee.
However, while both of these casinos, which are run by Harrah’s, have a license to take legal sports wagers, neither has a sportsbook on its property.
Tennessee passed legislation to legalize sports betting at the beginning of July last year when it enacted the Sports Gaming Act. However, there are still issues in dealing with that act’s draft of regulations.
Those were released to the public in November of last year, and the state has dragged its heels in giving its residents sports betting options even though it is legal and has been for nearly six months.