In the US state of Georgia, political representatives have renewed their push to legalize sports gambling, but once again, they will face resistance to their plans.
As reported by the Associated Press, the campaign resumed with the Senate Regulated Industries Committee voting 8-4 in favor of advancing Senate Bill 172, which would legalize, regulate, and tax sports betting in Georgia. Still, the requirement of a state constitutional amendment is a significant obstacle.
On Thursday, Vermont will become the 38th state to allow sports betting. While some permit in-person betting only, most states enable betting to occur from anywhere, including using a mobile device.
Back in Georgia, the sponsor of the fresh proposal, Bill Cowsert, outlined that an amendment would be required as when state voters approved the lottery back in 1992, sports betting could only take place in a casino in Nevada.
Other backers of the bill, supported by a trade body and professional sports clubs in Georgia, believe that regulated betting could be introduced under the patronage of the state lottery without requiring any amendment to the constitution.
Opposition to the bill
Any prospective constitutional amendment requires the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate in Georgia before it can be put to the electorate in a referendum. There is the issue of those lawmakers who oppose all forms of gambling for moral reasons.
That group includes Tyrone Republican Sen. Marty Harbin previously stated, “When we look at sports gambling, there’s an addiction issue,” adding that it lures people to betting with funds beyond their means.
This is the latest step in a long, bumpy road toward the destination of securing sports betting in Georgia. Still, there is no consensus on the best approach, with casino and horse racing provisions debated on the floor in addition to sports.
Another topic of contention is how the proceeds of taxation from sports betting should be allocated. One plan is to direct funds toward pre-kindergarten classes and scholarships, while others want funding to be needs-based as different interests are represented and contested.
No breakthrough is imminent, so will Georgia become the 39th state to legalize sports gambling? That is an outside bet, for sure.
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