New Sports Betting Bill in Georgia
Georgia may finally be getting sports betting. The past few years, there have been attempts by the State House to get sports betting voted on, but bills have continually failed despite hefty lobbying efforts. There is a ton of pressure from sports teams, bookmakers, and the public for lawmakers to get some sort of sports betting done.
This week a longtime sports betting supporter, Ron Stephens, announced a bill that he is sponsoring. This seems like it could be the most promising attempt to get legalization in the Peach State yet; many, including Stephens himself, are very hopeful that this bill will be the one to introduce the state to sports betting in 2021.
There is a lot of fine print to go over with this sponsored bill, but there are a few features to look at. The first is that the licensing fee will be $50,000 on top of an extremely large annual licensing fee of $900,000. This is higher than what we have seen in many states, but make no mistake, sportsbooks would be willing to pay this amount to reach the large and profitable Georgia market.
The bill gives the Georgia Lottery Corporation the ability to give out licenses and regulate. This is an extremely common occurrence as most states look towards their state lotteries to handle both the regulation and licensing process in tandem with guidance and support from lawmakers.
When it comes to the tax that would be paid, the current bill proposed comes in at 16% on the adjusted gross revenues. This is a bit higher than other states, but nothing astronomical or unheard of. The revenue is supposed to go towards education ventures in the state, such as the HOPE Scholarship program.
Similarities to Tennessee
There are a lot of things in this bill, including the tax rate, licensing fee, focus on outside bookmakers, and online sports betting that resemble Tennessee’s sports betting bill. Tennessee launched sports betting on November 1st, 2020 and is seeing extreme success. It seems that both parties, the bookmakers and the state, are extremely happy with the deal.
In November alone, Tennessee saw a sports betting handle, or a total amount wagered, come in at $131.4 million, and the state made an astonishing $2.4 million from that handle. When you consider that New Jersey almost reached a billion dollars in sports betting handle in December and only made a bit over $7 million in tax revenue, it seems that this kind of bill is much more state friendly.
The worries with a higher tax rate and licensing fee are that the odds would not be as competitive, and bettors would travel out of state. However, so far, that has not seemed to be an issue, and that worry was overblown by bookmakers.
If Georgia sees similar success to Tennessee, then I would consider this bill a smash hit. Only time will tell, though, if other lawmakers and the Governor agree with Rep. Ron Stephens. Ideally, the bill will reach the House and be voted on sometime in the next two months.