Posted on: April 5, 2022, 02:28h.
Last updated on: April 5, 2022, 03:01h.
Georgia sports betting and casino gambling will remain prohibited in the state for at least another year. That’s the verdict after the General Assembly concluded its 2022 legislative session yesterday.
A House committee last week passed two measures seeking to end Georgia’s longtime prohibition of most gambling. Aside from the Georgia Lottery, the state is absent of commercial and tribal casinos, sports betting, pari-mutuel wagering, and iGaming.
State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) is of the belief that Georgia should dissolve its anti-gaming stance. He hopes the state will reap the financial benefits of regulating sports betting, and possibly full-fledged casinos with slot machines and table games. But most of his Republican colleagues continue to feel otherwise.
Lawmakers Fold on Gaming Measures
The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee backed Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142 last week.
The resolution sought to ask residents if they support amending the Georgia Constitution to permit “sports betting and other forms of betting and gambling.” SB142 was dependent on the resolution, as it would have formed the Georgia Sports Betting Commission to govern such wagering should Georgians have signed off on the resolution.
But alas, voters will not lend their blessing to the constitutional amendment motion, as the question will not reach the November ballot. With the Georgia General Assembly adjourned for the year, the gaming motions have been shelved.
Stephens tried to win over his fellow Republicans by stressing that the gaming statutes would have primarily only protected consumers and led to new tax revenue for the state. The longtime state politician says sports betting and other forms of gambling are already going on in Georgia through offshore, unregulated channels.
“[Gambling] is on your phone. It’s an app, but the money is going offshore,” Stephens stressed. The Economic Development and Tourism Committee Chair said his gaming bills are simply measures to regulate and tax an activity occurring in the state.
Stephens’ opinion, however, wasn’t embraced by enough of his fellow House lawmakers to lead to a floor vote on the resolution.
Staunch Opposition Remains
State lawmakers in the House quickly rejected the committee backing of the gaming statutes.
“This is not something that the state of Georgia wants its stamp of approval on,” said Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange). “We’re the number one state to do business in. We don’t need this. This is what people do who are desperate, and this state is doing extremely well.”
Jeanne Seaver, a Republican candidate running for lieutenant governor, agrees.
Gambling will destroy our state and everything it entails,” Seaver said. “You’ve seen what it’s done to New Jersey. I don’t want to see Georgia become the new Chicago.”
In the coming years, Chicago will become a major gaming market with a downtown integrated resort in the Windy City, plus five smaller regional casinos in the Chicago suburbs of Waukegan, Rockford, South Suburbs, Williamson County, and Danville.
Georgia is one of only four states that doesn’t have commercial or tribal casinos, pari-mutuel wagering, racetrack gaming, online gaming, or sports betting. Only Hawaii, Utah, and Vermont can also make that claim.