Georgia legislators may merge sports betting, horse racing and casino gambling into the same amendment

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Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia Bulldog mascot, “Uga”

Good news: Georgia lawmakers are once again considering sports betting as part of a constitutional amendment that would also include pari-mutuel betting on horse racing and casino gambling.

Bad news: It may not be necessary to pass a constitutional change, and trying to combine casino gambling with sports betting will reduce the chances of it being passed.

Last year, the Georgian state Senate passed a constitutional amendment asking voters to legalize sports betting. However, the measure never reached the House of Representatives and died.

This year, lawmakers are looking to lump all three of these issues together and let voters decide the November vote, said Dave Williams of The Capitol Beat News Service.

From Williams’ syndicated story: “Long time proponents of legalizing gambling in Georgia have agreed with [House Speaker David] Ralston said it’s better to lump casinos, horse racing and sports betting.”

But there’s some disagreement from at least one industry expert over the idea that all three at once is the best course.

Gaming attorney Daniel Wallach wrote in the Chapman Law Review that a constitutional amendment is required not for sports betting in Georgia, but for casino gambling.

If a constitutional amendment has to be passed, it will be harder for sports betting to get through. and Rep. Stephens told Williams that sports betting has the most momentum of the three.

“It seems so detrimental to link sports betting to the other two,” Wallach told The Action Network in a Twitter post.

Wallach gives more color on Twitter:

It makes more sense to legislate sports betting THIS YEAR without tying it to casino gambling and mood uncertainty. Sports betting is not subject to the prohibitions of the Georgian Constitution. I’ve written about this issue before: https://t.co/Zn9GWflksJ

— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) January 12, 2022

Like the state lottery, Georgia sports betting revenue would go toward the HOPE Scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs. The HOPE Scholarship makes in-state colleges nearly free for Georgia residents who meet the requirements.

If a constitutional amendment comes to the November ballot, voters will be able to vote to legalize all three bet types at once. Then lawmakers would decide the rules and regulations for sports betting with hopes of launching it in 2023.

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