Featured in this article:
- A Bill to Allow Voters to Weigh in on Sports Betting Died in Georgia
- Sports Wagering Were Struck By Unrelated Politics
- Georgia Will Not Regulate Sports Wagering for Years
Late Wednesday night, a bill that may have led to regulated sports wagering died in the Georgia House. The state Senate passed a resolution to give voters the ability to vote on a betting constitutional amendment. But, with time running short on the 2021 legislative session, politics killed sports wagering.
Georgia Voting Rights Imperiled Sports Wagering
The measure placed before the House, SR 135, would approve a referendum for the November 2022 ballot. The measure would have asked voters to approve an amendment to Georgia’s constitution allowing sports wagering. With the recent surge in support for expanded gaming, the amendment would have had strong support.
However, unrelated state – and national – politics got in the way.
The Georgia legislature is controlled by Republicans. This past week, the legislature approved a controversial bill that restricted voting. Republican Governor Brian Kemp quickly signed the legislation, in spite of corporate backlash.
While voting access has nothing to do with sports wagering, Democrats tied the new election law to gambling.
NAACP Pulls Support for Sports Wagering
On Wednesday, the Georgia NAACP came out explicitly against SR 135. Because of the peculiar dynamics of Georgia politics, sports wagering needed bipartisan support to pass. Though sponsored by Republicans, gambling is opposed by many GOP conservatives.
Therefore, the Republican backers of the sports betting amendment were courting Democratic support. Typically, Democrats are more supportive of expanded gambling access. However, as a protest to the voting bill, Democrats pulled support for most other legislation. This included SR 135.
What’s Next for Georgia Gambling?
Before sports wagering became a victim of politics, it enjoyed support from many stakeholders. Atlanta’s professional sports teams backed regulated betting in the Peach State. The good news is backers will get another chance at putting an amendment on the ballot.
The now dead SR 135 only called for a referendum on the November 2022 ballot. Now, legislators will have the entire 2022 legislative session to revive sports wagering. It also gives them the opportunity to expand other gaming areas, such as casinos and horse racing. However, the future remains uncertain. Even if an amendment passed in November of next year, regulated gambling may not be available until 2024 at the earliest.
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