Georgia Fails Again to Legalize Sports Wagering due to Disagreements Between Lawmakers Over Tax Money

An attempt to officially approve sports wagering in Georgia failed again this year. The reason for this is that lawmakers couldn’t reach compromise on how to spend the collected tax money.

Both bills couldn’t even reach the House of Representatives:

In the early hours of the final day of the 2024 legislative session, March 28, the Committee voted down 2 sports wagering bills, a proposed state constitutional amendment and other that would have enabled legislation (Senate Bill 386), preventing them from coming to a vote in the House of Representatives.

In that regard, one top Democrat commented that his party yearned to see amendments in the procedure for how Georgia’s taxes on sports wagering would be spent. Lacking Democratic votes, the proposed constitutional amendment (Senate Resolution 579) could not reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass the House of Representatives and then the Senate.

As for the Republicans, they were anything but united. Also, several lawmakers from Grand Old Party (GOP) are against sports wagering, commenting that they oppose Georgia punishing addictive and destructive conduct.

Supporters and opponents of the legislations:

Among those voting for the bills lodislot was House Minority Whip Sam Park, a Lawrenceville Democrat. However, he said that the rest of the Democrats and he don’t back up the passage of the legislations as they are now. The reason for this is the amendment of the House Committee to the measure, which permits taxes to be set so they may be utilized by pre-K classes and HOPE college scholarships.

However, the priority of the initial measure by Senate was t utilize the money only for pre-K. However, several Democrats wanted the cash to be utilized for other reasons, like college financial help, which doesn’t require reaching and maintaining specific grades by students. On that note, Park commented: “It deviates from the bipartisan compromise in the state Senate that prioritized funding for voluntary pre-K.”

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Furthermore, supporters commented that residents of Georgia should have the opportunity to cast their vote, claiming that a lot of them already wager on sports under illegal circumstances. Speaking on the subject, Rep. Marcus Wiedower, a Watkinsville Republican, sponsor of the measure in the House of Representatives, commented: “This allows us to get those people off an illegal market into a legal market, allows us to regulate it and tax it, and take care and protect Georgia citizens.”

However, opponents advise that if sports wagering gets officially legalized, it will pave the way for addiction issues, for younger gamblers in particular. In this regard, Ashburn Republican, Rep. Clay Pirkle, commented according to the Associated Press: “When it is sanctioned by the state, to me it provides a different level. If the state says it’s OK, it becomes OK for a lot of people not doing this now.”

Athens Republican, Sen. Bill Cowsert, the leader of the attempts in that chamber, commented that he thought the constitutional amendment, which would have offered a maximum of up to $22.5m for addiction treatment, would offer “the most robust problem gaming provisions of any sports betting legislation in this country.”

On a national level, thirty-eight states permit sports wagering. Additionally, some states only permit in-person wagers, even though a majority of them permit electronic wagering from anywhere across the globe.

Earlier legislation in Georgia would have taken 20% of the revenue from the tax once the prize money was paid out to players. On a national level, tax rates range from 6.75% (Iowa) to 51% (New York and Rhode Island).