Georgia gaming bill fails thanks to indecisive tax plan by lawmakers

Updated May 13, 2024
Updated May 13, 2024By Chris Boline
georgia betting news may 2024

Like other states in America that have yet to find a solution to legalized gaming within their boundaries, Georgia residents will have to wait longer for a solution at home. Per a recent update from a significant news outlet, an effort to authorize sports betting in Georgia has failed for another year, after lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to spend money collected on taxes. Neither a proposed state constitutional amendment or authorizing legislation ever came to a vote in the House, after a committee passed it out in late March, on the last day of the 2024 legislative session. A top Democrat said his party wanted to see changes in how state taxes on sports betting would be spent. Without Democratic votes, a constitutional amendment couldn’t achieve the two-thirds majorities needed to pass the House and Senate. 

For this report, SBS will be going over what to look for from the latest gaming news coming out of the state of Georgia along with even more notes and news about gaming in the state. 

Georgia Republicans are very much split on gaming bill

Without Democratic support, a constitutional amendment appears to be out of the picture given how far each side is from the other. Moreover, as noted in the report, Republicans were far from unified. Some GOP lawmakers oppose sports betting, saying they don’t want the state to sanction destructive and addictive behavior. House Minority Whip Sam Park, a Lawrenceville Democrat, voted to advance Senate Resolution 579 and Senate Bill 386 but said he and other Democrats don’t support the bills as they are currently written. That is because the House committee changed the measure to allow taxes to be deposited for the use of HOPE college scholarships and pre-K classes. 

The Georgia Senate measure also prioritized using the money for pre-K, and some Democrats also wanted money to be used for other purposes, such as college financial aid that doesn’t require students to achieve and keep certain grades. “It deviates from the bipartisan compromise in the state Senate that prioritized funding for voluntary pre-K,” Park said. 

Supporters of the bill said Georgians should get a chance to vote, arguing many are already betting on sports illegally. “This allows us to get those people off an illegal market into a legal market, allows us to regulate it and tax it, and take care and protect Georgia citizens,” said Rep. Marcus Wiedower, a Watkinsville Republican sponsoring the measure in the House. Opponents, though, warned that legalizing sports betting will provide a pathway to addiction, especially for younger gamblers. 

Lawmakers focusing on meeting a gaming consensus

While this setback does close the door on gaming legalization during this current legislative session, there is still some hope that a resolution will be reached down the line. “When it is sanctioned by the state, to me it provides a different level,” Rep. Clay Pirkle, an Ashburn Republican said. “If the state says it’s OK, it becomes OK for a lot of people not doing this now.” 

Sen. Bill Cowsert, the Athens Republican who has been leading efforts in that chamber, said he believed the constitutional amendment, which would provide up to $22.5 million to treat gambling addiction, would provide “the most robust problem gaming provisions of any sports betting legislation in the country.” Nationwide, 38 states allow sports betting. Some states allow only in-person bets, although most allow electronic betting from anywhere. Georgia’s earlier bill would take 20% of proceeds in taxes after winnings are paid to gamblers. Nationwide, tax rates are set at anywhere from 6.75% in Iowa to 51% in Rhode Island and New York. 

Gaming bill had solid momentum to start the year

The hope was earlier this year, as noted by the same news outlet, that supporters of gaming would have been able to legally set up betting in the state under the purview of the Georgia Lottery Corporation. This would have come to pass by putting the issue to a statewide vote through a constitutional amendment. The lure of this bill, as one author put it, is that it would only require a majority vote of both chambers and then the signature of Gov. Brian Kemp.

A constitutional amendment would need two-thirds of both the House and Senate before it could go to voters for approval in a statewide referendum. In the same article, in January of this year, the measure has backing from some Democrats. That is key now and moving forward as some Republicans morally oppose gambling. However, Democrats have withheld their votes in other years, seeking to bargain over other issues. 

Additional news regarding Georgia updates and more

After you are all squared away in regards to the latest gaming news coming from the Peach State, make sure to also check out the awesome array of information for you at SBS. For even more information on the topic at hand, our Georgia sports betting guide has your back with all of the latest updates coming from the state in relation to gaming. On a separate note, for those on the go, the best betting apps rundown is a must-read. Here you can learn more about the nuances of mobile betting and how you can always stay on top of the action. Finally, for those perhaps intrigued by some higher-stakes wagering, check out the VIP sports betting sites breakdown. On this page you can learn more about VIP betting and if it might make sense for you. 

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About the Author

Chris Boline
Chris Boline

As a devout aficionado of sports, Chris Boline has carved a career within the athletic realm. A skilled scribe, he boasts a decade-long portfolio that encompasses coverage of the NBA G League, the Los Angeles Chargers, football in the Mountain West Conference, and basketball. Beyond his professional pursuits, Chris is deeply invested in his community and dedicates his leisure hours to serving on boards, collaborating with community organizations, and cherishing the company of loved ones.

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