On Friday, the Senate Special Judiciary Committee passed legislation to legalize mobile sports betting in Georgia on a 5-2 vote. The passing of mobile sports betting comes when the state is desperately looking for more revenue streams due to COVID-19.
The Georgia Lottery Corporation will oversee sports betting in the state. Legalized sports betting will allow sportsbooks like FanDuel and DraftKings to operate in the peach state. The sports betting bill is under House Bill 93, which also oversees traffic tickets. The revenue generated from sports betting would go towards the HOPE Scholarship fund and pre-kindergarten programs.
Sen. Burt Jones filed a mobile sports betting bill thas died out in the Senate as the coronavirus shutdown discussions. Now, Georgia is looking the make $3.6 billion in budget cuts, and are looking for revenue streams to fill the gap.
HB 93 Details
Under Sen. Jones’s bill, there are things mobile operators need to consider when entering the Georgia market. HB 93 requires a sportsbook to apply for a $50,000 application fee to operate in Georgia. Also, the sports betting licensing fee will be $900,000 annually.
Also, no one under the age of 21 will be allowed to place bets, similar to every other state that has legalized sports wagering. In Jones’ original bill, he proposes there to be a 20 percent tax on sports betting companies.
Sen. Jones believes sports betting can bring in $60 million annually in revenue. The revenue
Jones thinks $60 million annually in revenue, which will help the HOPE scholarship fund and pre-kindergarten programs.
The HOPE scholarship fund is for students who go to HOPE-eligible high schools. Those students can apply for a HOPE scholarship under their eligibility criteria, and use the scholarship at a University in the state of Georgia. With the coronavirus create a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the state, the HOPE program could be cut in order to save costs during the pandemic. Sports betting revenue could bring millions back to the fund.
Also, the bill is backed by Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance. The GPSIA is a coalition of the four major pro sports teams in Atlanta. Pro sports teams understand the impact that sports betting can bring to their teams. More people become involved, which helps grow the franchise popularity and revenue.
Now that the Georgia Senate Committee passed the sports betting bill, it will go to a full vote in the Senate. With legalized sports betting moving in the right direction in Georgia, it still has a few hurdles to cross.
First, both chambers need a two-thirds vote to pass the bill in order for it to move on. Next, the House Bill 93 will move onto Gov. Brian Kemp to get his approval to allow the Georgia voters to vote on it. The Georgia voters would be the final step in legalizing sports betting in the state, and they would also need two-thirds vote to pass it into law.
The Senate Committee approving the bill is a great step. However, this hasn’t been the first time Georgia has tried to legalize sports betting. The state has tried to amend sports betting into the constitution, but have had failed attempts since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed sports betting in 2018.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has left Georgia and other states in a budget deficit. States across the country are looking for revenue streams to bridge the gap, and sports betting is the best option as 20 states have legalized sports betting. After failed attempts of legalizing sports betting in the peach state, Georgia lawmakers are now seeing the opportunity sports betting gives as a revenue stream.
Potential Sportsbooks to Enter
Although it is still too early to know how Georgia will operate sports betting in the state, there are some possibilities at sportsbooks trying to be ready to go day one. FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings sportsbook could be two of the earliest entrants in Georgia.
Both sportsbooks are operating in at least six states, and DraftKings can is up in seven. Two of the largest U.S. sportsbooks would want to capitalize on entering a new market as soon as possible. Especially one with a sports town like Atlanta.
Also, Georgia is looking at mobile sports betting before retail sportsbooks. Mobile betting plays right into the FanDuel and DraftKings business model of mobile sports betting. If the Peach State legalizes sports wagering, expect these two to be the first to enter.
BetMGM might isn’t too far behind FanDuel and DraftKings. With operations in five states, including Nevada and New Jersey, BetMGM looks to grow its market share across the U.S. BetMGM would be a great fit in Atlanta as well. Their mobile operations would quickly catch in the state.
Also, BetMGM could be the first sportsbook to operate on a cruise ship. One interesting thing with Georgia is that the Emerald Princess Casino sails to international waters for gamblers to bet. BetMGM could add a sportsbook on board the vessel for a unique experience for their customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not yet, Georgia still needs to legalize sports betting in the state. Right now, a state Senate committee allowed for a full Senate vote to move the sports betting bill forward. If Georgia legalizes sports betting, then expect FanDuel to be one of the first ones in the market.
Similar to FanDuel, DraftKings needs to wait until Georgia passes sports betting. Also, expect DraftKings to be one of the first to enter the market. Right now, DraftKings is operating in seven states.
There is no set a date for legalized sports betting in Georgia. However, if Georgia can get a sports betting bill on the November ballot, then the state could start operating in 2021. First, sports betting needs to become legal in the Peach State.
The sports betting bill in Georgia plans to have mobile wagering. Right now, there is a better chance that mobile betting will be available before retail sportsbooks open up. Mobile betting is the focus of Georgia legislators.
There are no current locations for sportsbooks to go too. However, Georgians can expect the largest casinos to partner with sportsbooks as soon as sports betting can launch. The Emerald Princess Casino should have a sportsbook as the cruise ship enters international waters for Georgians to gamble.
There is no announcement on how bettors will be able to register for accounts, yet. However, many states allow players to register online or at a sportsbook. Georgia should allow players to register like every other state.
Right now, all professional sports and popular college sports can be wagered on. The Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance has backed the sports betting bill, which includes the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Falcons, and Atlanta United. If the four major pro teams in the state are on board with sports betting, then there should be no issues with what Georgians can and can’t bet.