As the days between now and the midterm elections wind down, candidates have begun to narrow down the central parts of their campaigns. For some, this includes the legalization, or at least the exploration of, sports betting.
In Georgia for example, where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is running for governor, there have been conversations surrounding sports betting throughout the political campaign process.
Abrams Says “Yes” To Sports Betting
In a speech in Atlanta in early August, Abrams cited her support for a constitutional amendment that would legalize sports betting and casino gaming in Georgia. “This will serve as a permanent source of revenue to underwrite broader access to education,” Abrams said. “We can afford it and we must do it. Studies projected the potential for billions to exist in economic impact funds that will not only finance our efforts to replenish and expand the Hope Scholarship, but it will also provide new economic opportunities for Georgia that can grow jobs and make our economy stronger for everyone.”
Abrams’ social media team followed this up in early September with a tweet to commemorate the beginning of the Georgia football season and disappointment for the lack of sports betting in the state. It was accompanied by an ad further expressing Abrams’ support for sports betting legalization. “Brian Kemp blocked sports betting in Georgia, letting tax dollars go to other states for years,” the narrator said. “ So when Georgia wins the bet, states like Tennessee get the tax money.”
At a forum hosted by the Savannah NAACP, @staceyabrams touts her plan to legalize casino gambling and sports betting to create needs-based college scholarships. “We owe it to the citizens of Georgia to invest in our people.” #gapol pic.twitter.com/nSFvFkN0lN
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) October 13, 2022
Gov. Brian Kemp “Hasn’t Changed”
Current Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has taken no formal position on sports betting through his campaign. “This is the thing about my position on that: it hasn’t changed,” Kemp told reporters at the state Capitol in August. “I’m at the same place I’ve always have [been]. To be able to do that here, it’s gonna take a constitutional amendment. It doesn’t really matter what the governor thinks, you can’t veto a constitutional amendment.”
Using that logic, the earliest that sports betting could be put to a vote by Georgians is November 2024.
In the last legislative session, Senate Bill 142 and Senate Resolution 135 were introduced in complement of one another. Senate Resolution 135 would create a ballot question to allow voters to remove the restrictions on legalized gambling from the state constitution while Senate Bill 142 would ask voters to allow online sports betting in the state or not. Both failed to make it to the House floor for debate.
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) October 14, 2022
Outlook In Atlanta
In Atlanta, home to NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, MLB’s Atlanta Braves, and the most populous city in the state, sports betting would be an extremely lucrative market to launch sports betting in. Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said he is not opposed to sports betting himself.
“It’s something that I’m looking at as it progresses and goes through the state legislature,” Dickens said. “I’ll be sober and open minded about it. I understand we do have great operators in this city such as FanDuel and others, that are doing it online and they provide jobs in our community. If there is more sports betting that can happen in our city in an organized fashion, we also need the social safety nets surrounding it.”
Perhaps the “safety nets” that Dickens discusses is in reference to the one-year suspension that Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is currently serving after betting on his own team last season, and in Georgia nonetheless.
Regardless, all of the aforementioned will soon be water under the bridge when voters choose between Abrams and Kemp on Nov. 8 and the fate of sports betting in Georgia is sealed for at least two more years. As it stands today, Kemp currently leads Abrams in the polls.