Mobile Sports Betting Fails at Georgia Legislature

Mobile sports betting bills and other measures to expand gambling in Georgia failed at the General Assembly this year in Atlanta.

Georgia sports betting
Georgia sports betting
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker returns to the dugout after a pitching change during an August 2020 game. The Braves and Atlanta’s other professional teams supported sports betting in Georgia. (Image: Tomahawk Take)

A Senate resolution that would have given Georgia voters a say in whether they want mobile sports betting did not make it off the House floor by Wednesday’s deadline. 

Senate Resolution 135 proposed a change to the state constitution to allow mobile sports betting. A constitutional change would require a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers and public approval in a statewide election.

Atlanta’s four professional sports teams, the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, and United soccer team, supported sports betting.

However, the General Assembly did not pass the resolution before the end of the session, according to the Georgia Legislative Navigator, a bill tracking website by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

A separate Senate bill that would have put the Georgia Lottery Corp. in charge of regulating sports betting also did not clear the Legislature before lawmakers left the Gold Dome in Atlanta for the year. This was SB142.

The mobile sports betting measures, sponsored by Republicans, lost support from Democrats after approval of a voting bill seen as restrictive and discriminatory, according to published accounts. 

Two other gambling bills, one to allow licensed casinos in Georgia, and another to permit horse tracks, also were shelved this year, according to the newspaper’s bill tracking site.

In Georgia, the same measures can be revived in 2022, during the second year of the General Assembly’s two-year cycle.

Decision Coming in Louisiana

Sports betting proposals have cropped up in other Southern states.

In Louisiana, the state Senate president has said he will introduce legislation this month to authorize mobile sports betting. 

In November, voters in 55 of 64 Louisiana parishes approved sports betting within their parish. However, the measure did not specify whether sports betting would be restricted to in-person wagering inside a casino, or can occur on mobile devices, such as smartphones.

Louisiana is home to 13 riverboat casinos, one land-based casino in New Orleans, and four racinos. 

After the Legislature meets at the Capitol in Baton Rouge on April 12, lawmakers will have to decide on several sports betting issues, including taxation and regulation. This is in addition to deciding whether to let people place bets on their smartphones. 

With these matters still undecided, state authorities have said legal sports betting probably won’t take place in Louisiana until 2022. The two-month legislative session ends this year on June 10.

No state bordering Louisiana allows mobile sports betting. The nearest state with mobile sports wagering, Tennessee, authorized it in November. There are no legal casinos in Tennessee.

Mobile Wagering Eyed in Arkansas

In Arkansas, the three legal casinos offer sports wagering inside the resorts at sportsbooks or kiosks. Mobile betting on live sporting events is not permitted.

The casinos are Southland in West Memphis, Oaklawn in Hot Springs, and Saracen in Pine Bluff. 

A lobbying firm representing mobile sports betting companies has sought a rule change to allow mobile sports betting. 

The state has not taken any action on the request, other than sending a letter to the lobbying firm stating that state gaming regulators would meet with their representatives on the matter. 

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