ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – On Tuesday, the Georgia state Senate’s Economic Development committee voted to approve SB 386.
The bill would legalize sports betting online through the Georgia Lottery. The bill appropriates funds for the state’s Pre-K and HOPE Scholarship programs.
Sen. Clint Dixon, the bill’s sponsor, estimates the state could generate $100 million.
“With Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida already doing sports betting, there is a lot of betting already going on,” Dixon said. “As our state continues to grow, more kids are using Georgia Pre-K. Those dollars are only going to go so far.”
Evangelicals including former Georgia Baptist pastor Mike Griffin spoke in opposition to the bill. He said he opposes any sports betting because it can be addicting.
The Georgia Department of Public Health estimates 380,000 Georgians have a gambling problem.
“This is state-sponsored predatory gambling,” Griffin said. “It would be like putting gas on a fire instead of water.”
Dixon said he’s included safeguards in his bill to address concerns. You won’t be able to place a bet using a credit card. If you have a gambling problem, you can self-appoint to put yourself on a list keeping you from betting in Georgia.
SB 386 differs from another sports betting bill from Sen. Bill Cowsert. SB 172 is currently tabled in the Senate.
Cowsert’s bill takes a different approach. Legalizing gambling beyond the state lottery would require amending the state constitution. Two-thirds of the House and Senate would have to vote to put it on the 2023 ballot.
Dixon’s bill would not require a constitutional amendment, meaning it would only need a majority vote, not two-thirds.
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