Georgia Lawmakers Add Legal Sports Betting to 2022 Legislative Agenda

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Legal sports betting in Georgia has gained the support of quite a few lawmakers the past few years. While previous legislative efforts have stalled, plans to introduce new legislative measures are planned for early 2022.

State lawmakers will reconvene on January 10, 2022 with the session running through the end of March. There could be multiple bills introduced concerning the expansion of gaming in the state. These proposals are sure to include wording for legal sports betting.

State Rep. Ron Stephens of Savannah believes the situation is “more encouraging than ever.” He is in favor of letting voters decide if they want legal sports betting in Georgia. He added “that’s the cleanest way to do it.”

Efforts to expand gambling in the state have been met with strong opposition over the past decade. However, the issue of legal betting on sports is viewed in a different light. As more and more states enact laws favoring sports betting, those waiting in the wings are missing out.

Many lawmakers in Georgia believe the timing is right to get something done in 2022. The Peach State is one of six in the nation that does not have casinos or legal sports betting. The other states on that list include HawaiiKentuckySouth CarolinaUtah and Vermont.

Georgia is viewed as an attractive market by a few heavy hitters in the gaming industry. That list includes the Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock International, Wynn Resorts and Bally’s Corporation.

The amount of money Georgia politicians are leaving on the table is starting to add up. Pressure to move forward with some form of gaming legislation will continue to mount.

The state’s Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission made note of that outside influence. In 2021, there have been 34 registered lobbyists working on behalf of gaming interests in the state.

Legal casino gambling in FloridaAlabama and North Carolina is adding pressure to the current situation. Although Florida and Alabama do not offer legal sports betting at this time. North Carolina has two tribal casinos with retail sportsbooks.

Two other driving factors are Atlanta as a major metro area and Georgia’s overall population. This state is home to the eighth-largest population in the country.

The process did move forward in 2020. A voter referendum for legal sports betting was approved by the state Senate. The measure eventually stalled in the House.

There has always been strong opposition to gambling in Georgia. This is due to the deep religious nature and conservative attitude in many parts of the state. There is a state lottery in place to benefit education. However, that is the only form of legal gambling on the books at this time.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can read more about our author's expertise here.