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Georgia Senate rejects bill to approve sports betting

Georgia gambling news - wagering bill comes under consideration

A Georgian bill to legalize mobile sports betting, including on horse races, was dismissed by the state’s lawmakers on Thursday.

Senate Bill 57 failed to reach the main Senate floor and was booted out in the Rules Committee after Senators voted 37-19 in favor of rejecting the legislation.

If approved, the measure would have regulated sports betting in the state without the aid of a constitutional amendment. It would have pushed the state lottery to establish sports betting on horse races on the condition that rather than the betting pool, the track or another company would pay the winnings.

This traditional method, known as pari-mutuel betting, would also allow the odds to be altered close to the time for the race. The measure would have permitted Georgians to place bets online and in person in outlets located in several sports venues and businesses.

Under the measure, around 18 online betting licenses would have been made available, and businesses with liquor licenses in the state would be permitted to host retail betting kiosks.

Although SB 57 seemed like a promising bill, its attempt to exclude constitutional amendment during regulation made it a difficult measure to approve.

Supporters of the bill claimed it would not need a constitutional change because it would not permit casinos and pari-mutuel betting. These are the only forms of gambling banned by the state.

According to senator Billy Hickman, around 8,500 new jobs would have been created by legalizing sports betting, and Georgia would receive over a billion dollars in revenue. The majority of the jobs would be provided by horse racetracks and include racehorse raising positions and growing hay to feed the animals. SB 57 proposed three horse racing tracks in the state.

Parties who opposed the bill claimed that it would not provide the mentioned jobs and would only take from the limited workforce in the state, causing a shortage in other areas.

“It steals an already limited workforce that is needed in Georgia for us to continue to be number one in business. The number one problem in the number one state for business is labor and workforce. We need those in businesses that are win-win businesses”, Senator Marty Harbin said.

He also asserted that the income provided by sports betting would pale in comparison to the amount of damage expanding legalized gambling would have in society.

“Gambling means that you will be risking something you value in hope of getting something even greater. Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system and much like drugs and alcohol it leads to addiction”, Harbin continued.

The issue will reportedly be revisited by Georgian lawmakers before Monday.

With the bill now dead, the focus is now on other similar measures. A separate bill to regulate sports betting in the state with the exclusion of horse racing is currently awaiting approval in the Georgia House.

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