Bill to legalize online betting for college and pro sports in Georgia filed at state Capitol

ATLANTA — You could soon be able to bet on pro and college sports in Georgia.

A lawmaker just dropped a bill to legalize betting across the state.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliott was at the state Capitol Tuesday talking to critics about how they worry this could hurt some college athletes.

Even critics agree that online sports wagering through the Georgia Lottery could bring in a lot of revenue to Georgia.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

But they worry online betting could lead to temptation for some college athletes, and headaches for colleges trying to police them.

Sports in Georgia are already big business.

And they’re also big business for illegal sports betting.

Now one Georgia lawmaker wants to make it legal.

This is the latest in a long line of efforts to do that.

“I think it’s what the appetite Georgians have right now,” Watkinsville Republican Marcus Wiedower said.

Wiedower is leading this latest charge.


His bill would legalize online sports watering and, for now, some brick-and-mortar retail sites, though the bill is still undergoing revisions.

Because the plan is to let the Georgia Lottery corporation run it and send revenue to the Hope scholarship, he doesn’t think it needs a constitutional amendment.

It’s different from another sports wagering bill that would also legalize betting on horse races.

His bill also has the support of every professional Atlanta sports team.

“It has nothing to do with casinos. It has nothing to do with horse betting. I don’t think there’s an appetite for that, and I’m not interested in that myself,” Wiedower said. “This is strictly online betting and that’s it.”

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Stockbridge Democrat Demetrius Douglas supports the bill, at least for professional sports.

“It’s good for the state of Georgia because a lot of money leaves the state,” Douglas said.

As a former UGA football player, Douglas worries about including some collegiate sports.

He worries that colleges would have to police their own players to make sure they aren’t betting on their own games.

“They have enough on their plate already and when success comes, it brings down another notch, another level of security for your kids and your student-athletes,” Douglas said.

Douglas does say he’s okay with sports wagering on college sports in the post-season, but not the regular season.