A few different measures to legalize sports betting in Georgia recently failed on the state’s crossover day. The failures appeared to signal an end to sports betting legalization hopes for the state in 2023.
Despite those failed efforts, House Speaker Jon Burns recently shared comments suggesting that a longshot effort to legalize sports betting could still occur before the end of the legislative session this month. While none of the bills to legalize sports wagering passed into the opposite chamber on crossover day, sports betting language could be tacked onto a different bill that did successfully pass last week.
“We have a 40-day session last time I checked, and we’re going to have a 40-day session this year,” Burns said at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We don’t close the door on anything. We’re going to continue to talk.”
Don’t bet on it
While Burns suggests sports betting efforts aren’t dead, it would come as a significant surprise if a sports betting measure passed in 2023. Neither the House nor the Senate seemed overly receptive to various sports betting bills on crossover day. Would enough change in a couple of weeks for that to flip?
SB 57 even failed prior to crossover day, in part due to language that would’ve allowed for fixed-odds betting on horse racing.
HB 380, a bill that would’ve legalized mobile sports betting but not retail wagering, wasn’t even discussed by the House on crossover day, although the bill had the backing of several major operators. That bill would’ve allowed for up to 16 mobile sports betting operators, and adjusted gross revenue would’ve been taxed at 25%.
Based on GeoComply information, many Georgians tried to access legal mobile sportsbooks in other states during the 2022 NFL season.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) March 3, 2023
SR 140 and its enabling legislation (SB 172) faced a long road toward legalization because they required a constitutional amendment to legalize sports wagering. That effort needed a two-thirds majority to pass through each chamber before then being put in front of Georgia voters in 2024.
Even if sports betting legalization language gets added to a different bill, legislators from each chamber still need to approve it. There’s significant debate among legislators over the need for a constitutional amendment as well as moral concerns about expanded gambling in the state.
Those debates haven’t gone away. Are legislators willing to discuss the issue again after shooting it down earlier this month? It seems unlikely, but Burns’ comments provide a sliver of hope for the state’s sports betting supporters.