Georgia to review sports betting bill proposal

Sports Betting

Supporters of legal sports gambling in Georgia renewed their push Tuesday, but it’s unclear whether they’re any closer to assembling a winning coalition after they went bust in 2023.

The Senate Regulated Industries voted 8-4 to advance Senate Bill 172, which would legalize, regulate and tax sports betting in Georgia, sending it to the full Senate for more debate. But the measure requires a state constitutional amendment to take effect. That needs two-thirds of both the House and Senate before it could go to voters for approval in a statewide referendum.

The measure’s sponsor, Athens Republican Bill Cowsert, argued again Tuesday that an amendment is needed because when Georgia voters approved a lottery in 1992, sports bets could only be placed in person in a Nevada casino. Vermont on Thursday will become the 38th state nationwide to allow sports betting, Some states allow only in-person bets, although most allow electronic betting from anywhere.

“There’s no way that was contemplated when the voters allowed lotteries in my opinion,” Cowsert said.

But supporters of an approach favored by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Georgia’s pro sports teams disagree. They argue sports betting could be overseen by Georgia’s lottery without amending the constitution. Cowsert’s early action Tuesday may have been designed to influence debate on the issue and get ahead of other gambits.