Lawmakers get innovative
After years of seeing bills for legal sports betting die on the Georgia House or Senate floor, lawmakers are trying something little different this time around. Their new tactic involves zero changes to the state’s constitution.
On Sunday, the Albany Herald revealed that Georgia lawmakers from both the House and Senate are attempting to legalize online wagering by statute rather than constitutional change.
would need only a simple majority vote”
Legislative supporters of the measure hope that adding sports betting to Georgia law through statute “would need only a simple majority vote” in House and Senate, according to the Herald.
The lottery angle
In January 2022, gambling backers in the Senate put forward arguments for a constitutional amendment for sports betting. This, however, would require a two-third majority vote to pass both chambers before the public vote. So far, this avenue has not proven a successful one for betting advocates.
The new statute strategy from Georgia lawmakers focuses on the classification of sports betting. Ex-Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton asserts that a constitutional amendment is unnecessary for legalization when lawmakers could classify betting as a form of lottery.
Outlining his reasoning, Melton said bettors “may exercise some skill” in picking winning teams or players, but the outcome is “entirely dependent on the ultimate performance of the teams or player.”
Casinos left out
Naturally, with Georgia being a conservative state, some have warned that going with the statute route could invite lawsuits and disputes.
The biggest elephant in the room is, however, casino gambling, which is still illegal in the state of Georgia. The statute strategy would leave out the possibility of legalizing casino gaming at the same time as sports betting.
Notably, a recent poll revealed Georgians were more in favor of a having a casino vertical than a sports betting one.
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