Mobile sports betting could soon become a reality in Georgia after the Senate Special Judiciary Committee passed legislation on a 5-2 vote.
The roll out of mobile sports betting will come as a welcome relief to the Peach State, which is currently looking to source alternate revenue streams to fill the gap left by the $3.6bn in budget cuts.
Under House Bill 93, which was submitted by Senator Burt Jones, sports betting will be overseen by the Georgia Lottery Corporation. Sportsbooks will be obliged to pay a $50,000 application fee to operate in the state with a $90,000 licensing fee to be paid annually. The bill also restricts anyone under the age of 21 from placing bets.
The bill was initially submitted prior to the coronavirus pandemic, with Sen. Jones’ original bill proposing a 20% tax on sports betting operators across the state.
Sen. Jones believes that the legalization of sports betting can generate $60m in revenues each year, of which the Senator hopes will support the HOPE scholarship fund and pre-kindergarten programs.
The bill has also received the backing from the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance (GPSIA), with the state’s four major pro sports teams highlighting the benefits that sports betting can bring to growing franchise popularity and revenues.
House Bill 93 will now be passed to the Georgia Senate Committee to be voted on in the state’s Senate, however the bill is still expected to face some regulatory hurdles.
Earlier this year, House Resolution 378 and Senate Bill 403 were intended to alter the state’s constitution to legalize sports betting, but did not achieve sufficient traction to get them over the March 12 finish line, thus pushing back the legislation to the ongoing session.
Senate Bill 403 looked to legalize sports betting, while House Resolution 378 set out to legalize betting and gambling as well as bingo, but made no mention of online gaming.
If the current bill is to pass, it first needs to gain a two-thirds vote to move on to Governor Brian Kemp to get his approval. If Gov. Kemp approves the legislation, Georgia voters will vote on the bill, with two-thirds vote necessary to integrate it into state law.