After the failure of legislation that would have permitted sports wagering in the state, involving horse racing, the official legalization of sports wagering is up for a vote again Thursday in the Georgia senate.
However, this time the main focus of the legislation is to allow sports wagering in the state without legalizing horse racing betting.
Sports wagering added to a separate bill:
Senators revisited the act by attaching it to a separate soapbox derby bill, then quickly enacted it in the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee on an 8-1 vote.
Moreover, a new rewritten bill, House Bill 237, could soon be voted on by the full Senate.
On that note, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who helped bring the bill back to the Senate, said: “I want the Senate to render a verdict on the idea.
“We either put it to bed so we don’t have to talk about it anymore, or we’ll get it passed and it will just be like picking up $75 million in the street.”
In addition to the two acts that were defeated in the Senate, a third proposal to permit sports wagering didn’t even reach the level of a vote in the House. It is House Bill 380 which doesn’t involve a provision requiring a constitutional change.
If it had passed, it would have sent the proceeds to the HOPE scholarship and the state’s pre-K program.
In this regard, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones added: “The new revenue would help bolster the lottery-funded HOPE scholarship and allow Georgia to join 36 other states that allow sports betting.”
Prediction that the sports wagering proposal will fail again:
However, other senators expect the newest sports wagering proposal to fail again, after its addition to a two-page bill primarily aimed to define the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby as Georgia’s official soap box derby.
Commenting on that, Georgia Senator Mike Dugan, Republican from Carrollton, said: “When you hijack a soap box derby (bill) and put sports betting on the back of it, every person that was on the fence in the state of Georgia has just now picked a side of the fence.”
Purpose of the act:
Under the legislation, sports wagering would be permitted under the state Lottery without changing the state Constitution, which would require a two-thirds vote of members in the state House and Senate and the support of Georgia voters in a referendum.
This latest sports betting bill could become law if it receives majority validation from the state House, state Senate and Gov. Brian Kemp.
However, Kemp and Jones have backed sports wagering in the 2022 campaign.
In this regard, Senator Billy Hickman, said: “I like the odds of sports betting passing on its third try.”
He added: “I think its chances are great. It’s an opportunity to bring additional money into the state of Georgia that is going to other states.
“I personally use a person in Tennessee to do my sports betting, and I use a person in Florida to do my horse racing. So this is a great bill for Georgia.”
Opinions are divided:
The act cannot move forward amid debate over whether it should move forward as a constitutional amendment and decide how the new profit it would raise should be spent.
“It’s immoral, addictive and breeds crime,” according to opponents of gambling.
In this regard, Jon Burns, House Speaker, said: “I prefer the legalization of sports betting over a broader expansion of gambling.”
On the other hand, Jeanne Seaver, a Savannah Republican activist who runs Moms Against Gambling, said: “The bill is a disgrace.
“Georgians don’t want any expansion of gambling, and the legislative leaders are just not listening” after previous bills didn’t pass.”