After witnessing 19 states in the US legalize sports betting and reap great revenues from wagers, more players in Georgia are advocating for sports betting regulation.
The shady side of Georgia betting
The Peach State always fostered sports betting, but only in the illegal and shady areas. It is difficult to suggest how much this shadow industry is worth, but some estimate it to be worth a massive $1.5 billion. The money flows through illegal or unregulated channels, never reaching the government.
Now some people are coming forward to voice their opinions and call for legalized sports betting in the state. Among them is Ed Clark, the president of the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He recently proposed a new billion-dollar casino resort near the track. Clark thinks that it will be a great way to generate state revenue without changing the status quo. He said that the conversation around legalization is to combine sports betting, casino gaming, and horse racing in a single bill.
However, creating gambling legislation for the state wouldn’t be easy. Any bill that seeks to turn into law will demand a voter’s referendum and a change in the state’s constitution to continue.
More people support gambling in Georgia
The leaders of the four professional sports franchises in the state- The United, Hawks, Falcons, and Braves, spoke in support of gambling legalization earlier this month. In a letter urging for regulation, they said that the American betting industry is already generating $150 billion for offshore and illegal sites every year. Georgia is the 12th largest revenue generator for these operators. As it won’t be possible to remove these players from all hidden nooks and corners of the state, it would be better to legalize sports betting and create a transparent and fair ecosystem for users and operators alike.
Supporters for gambling regulation argue that they could use the revenue generated by the state for the HOPE Scholarship program. However, its critics suggest that gambling may give rise to addiction and many such social and psychological issues. For now, it appears that getting a bill through the legislature will be difficult. House Speaker David Ralston and Governor Brian Kemp are both uncomfortable with the idea of gambling in the state. However, Gov. Kemp still wants to let the voters decide.
The citizens will have to make an important decision now- letting illegal operators earn or bet on the chance of earning revenue that could be utilized for public services.