Georgia Lawmakers May Lump Sports Betting, Horse Racing & Casino Gambling in Same Amendment
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia Bulldog mascot, “Uga”
Good news: Lawmakers in Georgia are once again considering sports betting as part of a constitutional amendment that also includes pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing and casino gambling.
Bad news: Passing a constitutional amendment may not be necessary, and trying to lump casino gambling in with sports betting makes the chances of it passing less likely.
Last year, Georgia’s state Senate passed a constitutional amendment asking voters to legalize sports betting. However, the measure never reached the House and died.
This year, lawmakers want to lump all three of these issues together and let voters decide on the November ballot, according to Dave Williams of The Capitol Beat News Service.
From Williams’ syndicated story: “Longtime supporters of legalizing gambling in Georgia have come to agree with [House Speaker David] Ralston that lumping casinos, horse racing and sports betting into a single measure is a better approach.”
But there’s some disagreement from at least one industry expert on the idea that all three at once is the best avenue.
Gaming attorney Daniel Wallach wrote in the Chapman Law Review that a state constitutional prohibition against “casino gambling” or “casino-style” gaming does not encompass sports wagering as a basic definitional matter.
In his soon-to-be-published law review article, Wallach lays out numerous compelling reasons why sports wagering and casino-style gaming are separate and distinct categories of gambling.
That makes it harder to pass sports betting when you also try to pass casino gaming with it. And Rep. Stephens told Williams that sports betting has the most momentum of the three.
“It seems so disadvantageous to tether sports betting with the other two,” Wallach told The Action Network in a Twitter message.
Wallach provides more color on Twitter:
It makes more sense to pass sports betting legislatively THIS YEAR without tethering it to casino gambling and ballot uncertainty. Sports betting does not fall within the prohibitions of the Georgia Constitution. I have written about this issue previously: https://t.co/Zn9GWflksJ
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) January 12, 2022
Like the state lottery, Georgia sports betting revenue would go toward the HOPE Scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs. The HOPE Scholarship makes in-state colleges nearly free for Georgia residents who meet the requirements.
If a constitutional amendment does get on the November ballot, voters can vote to legalize all three wagering types at once. Then lawmakers would decide on sports betting rules and regulations with the hopes of launching in 2023.