After a rocky roller coaster ride in recent years, gambling in the state of Georgia could go on smooth stretches to the finish line. The state’s legislative period began on January 11th and had already put several bills on sports games on the agenda. One looking to introduce mobile gambling to Georgia has passed his first test and is sure to pass through the House’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee this week. There are many more obstacles on the way, but sports game fans in the state have to take each one when it comes to them.
Unsurprisingly, House Bill 86 was approved by the House Committee. Its chairman, Representative Ron Stephens, is behind the bill, but there were six lawmakers on the committee who still don’t seem to understand the importance of legalized sports gaming. The bill was passed with a 20-6 vote, which is hopefully an indication that future votes will be positive towards approval.
If the bill stayed as it was written, which is rare, Georgia Lottery Corp. Monitor the sports game market and be able to approve at least six sports game licenses. The licenses would cost $ 900,000 each year in addition to the initial registration fee of $ 50,000. The lottery would also be responsible for managing the tax collection by the operators, which would be used in part to fund Georgia’s HOPE college scholarship program. Stephens has already noted an adjustment to his bill, with the tax rate dropping from 16% to 14%. However, he explains that even at 10%, sports games would contribute at least $ 42 million in tax revenue annually.
House Bill 86 contains language that prohibits betting on college and high school sports competitions, a point of contention that has already caused problems in other states. However, Stephens has competition that is trying to open up the sports game market a bit and provide more flexibility. Senator Jeff Mullis has prepared a bill taxing sports betting at 10% and allowing college sports betting. This bill is expected to be introduced soon.
The advantage of House Bill 86 is that it authorizes online sports games, hands down the most lucrative segment of anything available. This, Stephens said, means no change to the state constitution would be required, which could result in a much simpler approval process. The bill would only have to be supported by a majority in the legislative chambers and in the governor, instead of having to go through these labyrinths and be approved by the majority of Georgian voters in a public vote.
As usual, the issue of sports gambling is meeting with opposition in the state, with opponents arguing that a legal market for sports gambling would encourage young people to gamble, a claim that has never been supported by science. However, what has been backed by science is the fact that millions of dollars are spent annually on offshore sports betting, resulting in lost revenue for states. Stephens is aware of this and adds: “We can legitimize it through the lottery, if you will. If we want to do it offshore, why don’t we collect the revenue here in Georgia? “