The future of gambling expansion in Georgia is poised to heavily favor sports betting over casinos and pari-mutuel if lawmakers give the green light next year. According to early polls, while support for both casinos and sports wagering exists in the state, the preference for the former seems to be stronger than the latter. However, some politicians believe that if gaming expansion is approved in 2024, sports betting is the most likely to be successful.
Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, Republican from Georgia, expressed his confidence in the popularity of sports betting during an interview with Dave Williams of Capitol News Service. He referred to sports betting as an “easy lift,” considering it to be the most favored among the three gaming genres that could potentially be added in the state. Jones previously pitched a sports betting bill in 2020 while serving as a member of the state senate.
Despite Georgia currently having a lottery, it is one of the six states without commercial or tribal casinos. This sets it apart from neighboring states like South Carolina. However, the state’s lack of regulated sports betting may soon change, as there is growing optimism that Georgia may approve sports wagering in 2024. Observers in the gaming industry consider Georgia to be the best hope among mid-sized and large states for the legalization of sports betting next year.
Among the reasons supporting the optimism for Georgia to join the legal sports betting landscape is the belief that the issue does not require a constitutional amendment, according to former Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton. This, in turn, could pave the way for easier passage. Additionally, the rapid population growth in the state has created a need to increase funding for pre-K education and the HOPE scholarship program. Some politicians view sports wagering as a potential funding avenue for education, potentially swaying their colleagues to vote in favor of it.
Additionally, Georgia’s largest city, Atlanta, is home to four major professional sports teams that support regulated sports betting, further adding to the prospects of its approval in 2024. With these factors in play, Georgia’s legislature may favor sports betting as the primary choice for gaming expansion in the state.