Bill for legalized online sports betting in Georgia takes another step closer forward

ATLANTA — Sports fans are getting closer to being able to gamble on games online in Georgia. A mobile sports gambling bill passed a Georgia House committee on Tuesday.

Atlanta’s four major league sports teams, the Falcons, Hawks, Braves and Atlanta United have pushed online sports gambling for years, even though they say they won’t make a dime.

Savannah lawmaker Ron Stephens has pushed this idea for years and says those teams still need it for engagement.

“They don’t get a penny of the revenue. All this is captured by the state. What they’re looking for exactly is fan engagement especially for the younger generation that’s coming along.”

Stephens told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that Georgians spend more than $4 billion a year on illegal gambling. He believes the HOPE scholarship could get more than $40 million a year in revenue if the state legalizes online sports gambling and taxes it.

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But Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Virginia Galloway has opposed it for as long as Stephens has supported it. She still thinks it’s a bad idea.

“It’s very addictive. It’s designed to be addictive, and so it’s harmful. Georgians waste tons of money already on gambling. Why would we put ourselves into this?” she told Elliot.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 86 out of the committee 19-6, setting up a potential vote on the House floor.

A spokesman for the professional teams is hopeful.

“We’re very pleased. Sports wagering has a lot of support throughout Georgia, and the more we talk with legislators, the more support we’re getting, so we’re very optimistic,” Billy Linville said.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban in 2018, 22 states have legalized some form of sports gambling. It’s a big moneymaker.

If the bill is passed and signed into law this session, sports betting could start in July. Under this plan you would not be able to bet on college sports.

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