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Georgia’s Bold Move Towards Legalizing Sports Betting without Constitutional Change



Georgia’s Legislative Leap: Sports Betting Without Constitutional Amendment

In an unprecedented legislative move, Georgia senators are actively championing Senate Bill 386, aimed at legalizing sports betting under the Georgia Lottery Corporation‘s purview, bypassing the conventional route of a constitutional amendment. This innovative approach marks a significant departure from previous failed attempts in 2023 to legalize gambling in the state.

The Mechanics and Merits of Senate Bill 386

The bill, which received an 8-2 vote of approval from the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee, is now proceeding to the Senate for further deliberation. Its unique appeal lies in the fact that it only necessitates a majority vote in both legislative chambers and the governor’s signature, as opposed to the more arduous path of a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority and a statewide referendum.

The bill’s proponents, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber and various Atlanta professional sports teams, highlight the potential economic boon and societal benefits. Specifically, the proposed legislation aims to allocate tax proceeds to fund prekindergarten classes and HOPE Scholarships, in line with the original intent of the 1992 constitutional amendment that sanctioned the lottery.

Navigating Political and Constitutional Challenges

Despite gaining some Democratic support, the bill faces opposition from certain Republicans on moral grounds and concerns about its constitutionality. Critics argue that voters in 1992 could not have foreseen sports betting, traditionally confined to Nevada casinos, being encompassed under the lottery’s scope.


The legislative landscape remains complex, with a rival bill advocating for a constitutional amendment also in play, reflecting a broader ambition to include casinos and horse race betting in Georgia. However, that approach faced a setback in 2023 when it failed to garner the requisite votes for passage.

The Economic Implications and Opposition

Senate Bill 386 proposes a 20% tax on sports betting proceeds, aligning with varying tax rates across the U.S., from Iowa’s 6.75% to New York’s 51%. The bill would grant one license directly to the Georgia Lottery and eight others to major professional sports entities in the state, including the Atlanta Braves, Falcons, Hawks, and others, while seven additional licenses would be available through the lottery, subject to application and licensing fees.

While supporters advocate for the economic and social benefits of sports betting, opponents, like Mike Griffin representing Georgia’s Southern Baptist churches, warn against the risks of addiction and the inherent nature of gambling where bettors are positioned to lose.

Conclusion: Georgia at a Gambling Crossroads

As Georgia navigates this bold legislative path, balancing economic benefits with ethical considerations and potential legal hurdles, the outcome of Senate Bill 386 will be pivotal in shaping the state’s gambling landscape. This decisive moment could transform Georgia into a leading example of how states can innovatively integrate sports betting into their legal and economic frameworks.


Jerome, a valuable addition to the Gamingo.News team, brings with him extensive journalistic experience in the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry was sparked during his college years when he participated in local poker tournaments, eventually leading to his exposure to the burgeoning world of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now utilizes his accumulated knowledge to fuel his passion for journalism, providing the team with the latest online scoops.

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