Casinos and Sports Betting Legislation Coming to Georgia in 2022
Lawmakers in Georgia are at it again, with new legislation coming in 2022 to hopefully legalize casinos and sports betting in the state.
Over the past few years, efforts have been ongoing in Georgia to bring sports betting and casinos to the state. All efforts have failed thus far due to the lack of support for one sector or the other. With the year coming to a close soon, lawmakers are now preparing for the next legislative session. When legislature are back in session next year, new legislation will be submitted to hopefully see one or both options approved in the state.
Coming in 2022
In Georgia, lawmakers will be back in session by January 10. Lawmakers will meet through March, giving three full months to consider sports betting and casino legislation. The hope is that the growth in both sectors will give conservative lawmakers enough push to see Georgia become involved in the gambling industry as well.
Representative Ron Stephens stated in a Capitol Beat News Service article that the environment looks more encouraging than ever. Stephens has long supported a gambling expansion for the state and wants to allow the people to decide.
Georgia is slowly falling behind when it comes to commercial gambling. The state is one of just six that do not offer such gaming in the United States. With major cities like Atlanta and Savannah, the state is seen as a potential major player in the gaming industry if casinos were allowed.
Everybody Wants In
Major operators are eyeballing Georgia and its gambling legislation. Companies like Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Bally’s Corporation, and Hard Rock International all want to see gambling take place in the state.
During the 2021 legislative session, more than 30 registered paid lobbyists were reportedly working for gaming interests, according to the Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission of Georgia. Because residents in the state do not have access to gaming, it is quite common to see players in neighboring states like Florida, North Carolina, and Alabama taking advantage of gambling options in these states.
Operators and advocates see the state for what it could provide. Georgia is home to the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, which is the largest airport in the United States. With a casino near Atlanta, the state could see a huge traffic footprint and major earnings.
The state is really an attractive market and would definitely see a great deal of competition from major players in the industry if casinos and sports betting were allowed. We may see an even larger push this year as proponents try to convince the naysayers to at least let the residents of Georgia decide if gaming should be allowed or not.
The main point of contention is the fact that Georgia is a very conservative state with deep religious roots. Gambling is considered a sinful activity and faith-based organizations are going to continue to push for the state to remain free of casinos and sports betting services.
The state does have the lottery and it has provided millions to tuition grants for college students of Georgia. Finding a way to support more educational needs might be a good path to getting lawmakers to join the push for gambling in the state. Proponents say that they don’t think anyone could say that the lottery has been bad for the state and maybe that would help to get other options legalized as well.
It will certainly be interesting to see what the legislation looks like once it is presented next year. Will it be a combined bill with both options or one for each sector? Lawmakers will have to decide which option will work best to give the legislation the best possible path to legalization.