Georgia: Legalizing Gambling Needs No Constitutional Amendments 

Georgia: Legalizing Gambling Needs No Constitutional Amendments 


Harold D. Melton, who was the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court for many years, doesn’t think that the state’s constitution needs to be changed to make online sports betting legal.

A report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that Melton thinks that expanding the state lottery should be the same as letting people bet on sports in the state.

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Politicians Push for the Legalization of Sports Betting

Recently, there has been an increased push to pass legislation through the General Assembly, with the Metro Atlanta Chamber requesting Melton’s thoughts on the constitutional validity of sports betting. The Metro Atlanta Chamber wants to know what Melton thinks about whether or not sports betting is legal.

Amendment of the State Constitutions to Georgia 

The fact that any change to the state constitution needs a two-thirds majority vote in each of the state’s legislative chambers and, ultimately, the approval of the state’s people has made it hard to expand gambling in Georgia.

Melton, on the other hand, is of the opinion that an amendment to the constitution is not required. He stated in a memo that, after conducting a review of the applicable law, the meanings of the applicable terms in their original context, and the historical context of those terms, he believed that sports betting could be made legal as a state-run lottery for educational purposes solely through legislative action. He came to this conclusion after looking at the relevant law, the original meanings of the terms in question, and the history of those terms.

Opposing Viewpoints

In the state Capitol, there has been a lack of agreement among analysts over the question of whether or not the state constitution permits betting on sporting events. Rick Ruskell, Director of Legislative Counsel, recommended in 2019 that a constitutional amendment be passed to legalize sports betting. He did so by citing ambiguity in the definitions contained within the state constitution. According to his statements in front of a panel of legislators, he recommended that the prudent and safe course of action would be to put the issue to a vote by the people of Georgia through a well-crafted constitutional amendment. This recommendation was based on the fact that he believed that this would be the most effective way to address the problem.

In contrast, in the year 2020, attorney Bruce Brown from Atlanta expressed his opinion to a group that was opposed to gambling that the law would not stand up to a constitutional challenge. Consequently, some MPs have asserted that legislative advice is not required to authorize sports betting, while others continue to hold that an amendment to the Constitution is required to make this change.

The passage of legislation permitting wagering on sporting events in Georgia did not take place in 2022. For years, lawmakers have debated whether to broaden the definition of gambling in the state to include sports betting.The objective of this discussion has been to find a way to support education programs that are funded by the Georgia Lottery, such as the HOPE scholarship.

Proposing to Allocate the Profits to Other Programs

Nevertheless, despite this, the legislation has not been able to become law because there is widespread debate about how the money that is made from sports betting should be distributed. In 2022, the House Rules Committee was successful in killing a piece of legislation that had a good chance of being approved by the General Assembly. Some of the people on the committee weren’t sure about the plan to give the money to need-based scholarship programs.

In spite of the fact that Republicans control a majority in the Legislature, there are members of the party who are against gambling in any form. This indicates that in order to enact a constitutional amendment, there would need to support from both sides of the political aisle in order to meet the threshold of two-thirds. Those in favor of the bill contend that Georgians already gamble over $5 billion annually on sports in an unlawful capacity. According to the results of a recent survey, the vast majority of voters in Georgia are in favor of legalizing sports betting if the proceeds are dedicated to funding pre-K and higher education programs.

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About Lou De Aguila

Lou Aguila is a news and feature writer for Golden Casino News. For over a decade, Lou has published news and featured articles for some of the most reputable sports betting and online casino sites in the world, including BetNow.UK, VegasOdds, and BWin. Apart from being a hardcore live casino punter, he also covers sports stories in North American leagues from time to time.