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Online sports betting could appear on Georgia’s November ballot, after the Senate passed a state constitutional amendment approving the activity.

On Tuesday (27 Feb), the state Senate passed Sen Bill Cowsert’s (pictured) SR 579 by a 41-12 margin, with the amendment receiving bipartisan support.

The proposed law would charge the legislature with establishing a gaming commission, which would then set regulations and a tax rate for a licensed betting market.

Tax revenue from the market would be divided between prekindergarten programmes, problem gambling and state sports.

Additionally, the law would permit the government-run Georgia Lottery Corporation to operate sports betting.

According to Georgia law, constitutional amendments must be approved by two-thirds of both chambers, as well as a majority of the public in a ballot.

As such, the legislation will need to see support from at least 120 of the state’s 180-strong House of Representatives.

At present, “all forms” of pari-mutuel betting and casino gambling are specifically banned under the state constitution.

Local officials have estimated the legalisation of sports betting in the Peach State could raise $100m in long-term annual tax revenue.

Rival bill floats lottery route

The bill is the second sports betting bill passed so far in the 2024 Georgia legislative session after Sen. Clint Dixon’s SB 346, which passed 1 February.

The legal framework would establish a 20% tax on online sports betting, as well as create a tethered system with sports teams, golf courses and automobile racetracks being permitted to apply for licences.

Dixon’s bill would seek to authorise sports betting as an activity covered under the state lottery laws, instead of a constitutional amendment.

However, Cowsert told AP this would not be appropriate.

“I think it’s the politically appropriate thing to do when we make this type of major policy shift in our state,” Cowsert said. “This is to give voters the opportunity to speak on the issue.”

If politicians are successful in approving sports betting this year, Georgia will become the 39th state in the union to allow consumers to place legal bets.

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