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Georgia House to vote on proposal to legalize online sports betting

The Georgia House of Representatives continues to consider proposed legislation that could lead to the introduction of online sports betting in the Peach State.

On Monday, House Committee members discussed how sports betting revenue should be spent, particularly on education, if the changes come to fruition. Further conversations will take place tomorrow (March 27), with Senate Bill 386 and Senate Resolution 579 on the agenda.

The former involves establishing a sports betting structure in Georgia, while the latter would introduce a constitutional amendment referendum to let voters have their say on the matter.

If the law gets a referendum, voters could approve sports betting in Georgia in the upcoming election in November.

How Georgia’s Gambling Legislation Is Going

Senate Bill 386 would also allow the Georgia Lottery to offer up to 16 gaming licenses, in a significantly changed format from when it was first brought up for discussion earlier this year until the committee meets this week.

One of the amendments directed gaming operators to pay a 20% tax rate on their income, which was increased to 25% after the committee meeting. The main driver for this change is to maximize profits for Georgians to see a return on important services.

Democratic lawmakers are urging their colleagues to direct a portion of profits from sports betting revenue toward free school lunches, historically black colleges and universities and other educational benefits. Democrats on the committee also confirmed support for re-establishing language prioritizing fully funded pre-K.

Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, the sponsor of SR 579, said he disagrees with deprioritizing pre-K and the requirement that 80% of Georgia’s gambling tax revenue be used for lottery-funded education programs .

He also refused to spend 15% of funds on gambling prevention measures and 5% on promoting sporting events in the state. The changes mean the General Assembly will need to agree and clarify how much money to spend on problem gambling each year.

Photo credit: Brad Huchteman/Unsplash

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