Lawmakers continued the debate on a familiar issue under the Gold Dome today as a bill legalizing sports betting made its annual appearance in the Senate. 

Sports betting returns

SB 386 would legalize online sports betting and be incorporated into the Georgia Lottery corporation.   

The bipartisan bill would provide 16 licenses for various sports betting operators, which would include sports teams and events in the state.  

The bill also prevents people from placing bets using credit cards and certain people from wagering on events. 

Support came from both sides of the aisle, with several senators citing the need for the additional education funding that the betting would create. 

Democratic Sens. Harold Jones and Gloria Butler spoke in favor of the bill.

But the bill was opposed as it was written, and two amendments were proposed. 

Amendment 1 would require voters to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting, explained Republican Sen. Bill Cowsert.  

Sen. Cowsert and Sen. John Albers said Amendment 2 would prohibit a sports team from being able to profit from the betting. 

But there was still strong opposition to allowing gambling on other grounds, said Sen. Ed Setzler.

Amendment 1, requiring the constitutional amendment, passed. Amendment 2 failed. 

Despite the impassioned debate, SB 386 passed 35 to 15

Religious groups like the Georgia Baptist Mission Board are continuing to advocate against sports betting. They say that legalizing sports betting would not help children even if it creates more scholarship money. 


Mulberry cityhood

The Senate also debated SB 333, which would call for a local vote to create the city of Mulberry in Northeast Gwinnett County. 

Local control over rapid growth in the area was the main reason given for its incorporation.  

But other members of the Gwinnett caucus claimed partisan politics were at play and that the bill was created hastily to bypass the Democratic control of the county board over zoning issues.   

The bill passed 30 to 18.


Monday rememberance

It was a quieter day in the House.

Lawmakers approved an amended rules calendar that swapped Monday’s floor session for a new date: February 16. The change allows members to attend the late rules chairman Richard Smith’s memorial service. 

And finally, the men and women at the capitol wore red today to advocate for women’s heart health.

2024 marks the American Heart Association’s 20th year of advocacy.  

Lawmakers will convene again on Tuesday for Day 15 after remembering chairman Smith on Monday.

Join host Donna Lowry and capitol reporter Sarah Kallis at 7 p.m. on GPB-TV for the 54th season of GPB's Lawmakers.