Georgia strikes out, wait goes on for sports betting

Turner Field Atlanta Braves

Georgia may have to wait until 2024 for legal sports betting after this week brought agonizing failure for legislation aimed at ending the drought.

Hopes were high in the Peach State when the Senate passed two things earlier in March:

  • Senate Resolution 135: This would have allowed voters in the state to make the final decision on whether online sports betting should be legalized.
  • Senate Bill 142: This was all about how sports betting would be regulated. Namely regulation for at least six lucky operators, each paying a $10,000 application fee, an annual $100,000 license fee and 16%income taxes.

It was hoped that legalizing sports betting would bring in anything up to $100million in new revenues for the state – very welcome as U.S. locales count the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state’s major sports franchises – the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLB’s Atlanta Brave were both in favor of the legislation.

No House vote

But on Wednesday the hope evaporated as Resolution 135 and Bill 142 failed to get the House vote they needed to move forward.

With the Georgia General Assembly now adjourned, eager online bookmakers must wait until the 2022 session to see what the roadmap looks like.

There is a slim chance that if the legislation passes the House in the 2022 session, voters may be allowed to make a decision later that same year. Allowing sports betting to open up in 2023.

But more likely the wait will be an even longer one, with a market opening of 2024 at earliest.

Covet thy neighbor’s handle

The frustration for Georgia natives in favor of legal sports betting is only likely to be increased when they look over the state line to Tennessee, which has been open for online and mobile business since 2020.

In January 2021, Tennessee’s sports betting handle was $211million – taking it through $500million in only the first three months of operation. Nice work, if you can get it. Georgia though, remains on the outside, looking in.