House committee continues to amend Georgia sports betting bill

Georgia Sports Betting
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The Georgia House is continuing to make changes to a pair of sports betting bills.

On Monday, members of the Georgia House Higher Education Committee discussed Senate Bill 386, which aims to regulate online sports betting in the Peach State through a constitutional amendment. The amendment, Senate Resolution 579, would allow Georgia voters to decide whether the state would become a new regulated sports betting market.

SB 386, which allows the Georgia lottery to offer up to 16 wagering licenses, has undergone a myriad of changes since it was introduced earlier this year and that continued during Monday’s committee hearing. A previous iteration of SB 386 called for operators to pay a 20% tax rate on sports betting revenue, which was changed to 25% during the committee’s latest meeting to drive more profits for Georgia residents.

The measure has been amended to not include deductions for promotional credits in the definition of taxable income. SB 386 has also seen changes to how sports revenue is distributed throughout the state. A previous draft of the measure called for 80% of tax revenue from sports wagering to be allocated toward supporting pre-K and the HOPE Scholarship program and 15% directed toward a responsible gambling fund. Another 5% was to be deposited into a sports promotion fund to bring major events to Georgia.

On Monday, the House committee amended the bill’s revenue distribution model into a consolidated fund, which supports pre-k, capital improvements, and education. The amendment of SB 386 excludes any set amount of allocated revenue or the establishment of the sports promotion fund. It also has no language to support the state’s HBCUs and free school breakfast and lunch for students as previously considered.

SB 386 does not authorize DFS as its language mirrors North Carolina. The Tar Heel State, America’s newest sports betting market, went live with wagering on March 11. North Carolina’s wagering laws do not explicitly establish a framework for DFS contests, which have been opposed in several states due to their resemblance to player prop betting.

The House committee will meet on Wednesday to further discuss SB 386 and its companion bill. Members will have to move quickly as Georgia’s legislative session ends March 28. Last month, both SB 386 and SR 579 passed in the Georgia Senate but the two bills face an uphill battle to move forward this week as sports betting has previously failed in the House.