Lawmakers: Sports betting legislation was filed Tuesday. What's next?
Lawmakers filed legislation aiming to legalize sports betting on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 57, sponsored by Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro), is the first of what could be several gambling bills considered during this legislative session.
The bill would allow the state to bring in revenue from betting licensing and taxes for educational purposes. People could place bets on the outcome of sporting events from their phones, tablets, and licensed machines.
Hickman told GPB's Lawmakers that Georgians are already betting on sports and a bill would help regulate it. After several gambling bills failed in recent years, Hickman says he is, quote, "cautiously optimistic."
The bill allows licenses for three horse racing tracks for horse race betting.
SB 57 also creates a commission to oversee sports betting in Georgia.
Critics of sports betting worry about crime that may come with the legalization, but Hickman disagrees.
"And it'd be regulated; you could put the stops in place to reduce the crime, reduce the other forms of illegal stuff against it," he said. "Right now, it's wide open; there's no regulations against what's going on."
Former Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Harold Melton said lawmakers wouldn't need a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting. Creating a constitutional amendment is a much lengthier process, as it would require a voter referendum and two-thirds of the Lawmakers to approve.
A poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that voters surveyed overall supported sports betting legalization.
Sports betting would fall under the Georgia lottery, which funds the HOPE Scholarship.