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Will 2023 Be The Year Sports Betting In Georgia Becomes Legal?

a $20 bill in a University of Georgia money clip

Georgia Representative Ron Stephens backed two legal sports betting bills during the 2022 GA legislative session that did not receive the support required to pass.

The 2023 session doesn’t begin until April 10th, but Representative Stephens is already poised to introduce another bill for legal sports betting in Georgia. This time, he’ll have more data from neighboring states to support his cause.

Alabama appears nowhere near ready to consider sports betting, but to GA’s north and south, domestic sportsbooks are already legal and raking in sizable revenue totals.

Sports betting in Tennessee is only available on mobile sportsbook apps as the state does not allow for in-person venues. Online and mobile are where the money is, however, and the sports betting revenue reports for TN have been considerable.

Tennessee has a population of roughly 7 million people, and their sportsbook handle totals for 2022 have ranged from $183 million to $439 million per month.

Now consider that 11 million people live in Georgia. Comparing that exponentially to Tennessee’s intake makes it easy to see why sports betting in GA should be attractive to local lawmakers.

Sports betting in Atlanta and the surrounding area is expected to be the revenue driver, as its population of 6 million represents over half of the citizens in GA.

Florida has also legalized sports betting through the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, but operations are temporarily shuttered due to a challenge in federal court.

South Carolina has shown recent interest in pursuing domestic sportsbooks, with movement in that direction expected in this year’s session.

In-person sportsbooks are open for business in North Carolina, but they are currently limited to two tribal casinos located in Cherokee. NC politicians are currently considering the addition of mobile sports betting apps in 2023.

How Can Domestic Sports Betting In GA Become Legal?

According to former GA Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton, as long as sports betting falls under the arm of the Georgia Lottery, it can be made legal by the state legislature.

“Based on my review of the relevant law, the original public meanings of applicable terms and the historical context of those terms, it is my opinion that sports betting can be legalized as a state-run lottery for educational purposes solely through legislative action,”

Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton

While this analysis may provide a path for sports betting, it may not allow for outside vendors like FanDuel and DraftKings to apply for licenses and operate domestic sportsbook apps.

Governor Brian Kemp now appears to be more favorable toward GA sportsbooks, and Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones has previously introduced sports betting bills in the legislature.

Georgia’s 2023 legislative session wraps up on June 8th. If a sports betting bill is passed this year, it will take additional time to set up shop and regulate domestic books in the state.

With any luck, sportsbooks could be taking bets in time for Super Bowl LVIII, but it could take a full year or more to set the table.

Source – WALB, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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