It’s all in the voters’ corner once again as it has been many times before. The residents of Georgia may finally have a say in whether they want to see sports and horse race betting legalized in the state and to do that, they would have to take to the ballots in November and cast their vote.
At least this is what Senate Resolution 135 is trying to introduce into legislation. The proposal was backed in a vote at the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee this Monday, the Associated Press reported, and hopes are that the long and often divisive debate about the legality of sports gambling may be settled by the people whom it concerns the most – ordinary residents of the state of Georgia.
To get any of these to the ballot, there would need to be strong support for the amendment in both the House and Senate. At least two-thirds of the representatives and senators must vote to move forward with the proposals in order to see them initiate a ballot on constitutional amendment. A previous move has already fallen short of the mark in 2021.
As legislators are trying to garner support, some are sounding the alarm that missing out to initiate a constructive dialogue on the matter would only reinforce the status quo whereby Georgians are placing bets offshore with no regard for their safety or personal data. Missing out to tax this, argues Ron Stephens, a Republican, comes at the expense of individuals as well as the state coffers.
There are those who argue against any movement on sports betting as it "encourages addiction," but their argument falls short when they fail to acknowledge a better way to tackle the offshore gambling market. One of the most vociferous critics, Rep. Randy Nix suggested that Georgia should not move ahead with any attempts to change the constitution and allow for voters to have a say.
In the meantime, there are already plans to introduce mockup regulation of a potential sports betting industry. For starters, there will be a 20% tax that would apply to betting proceeds and the gambling age will be fixed at 21.
The Georgia Lottery Corp would be able to issue up to nine licenses that would be able to offer interactive gambling on approved products. The money collected from sports gambling would be forwarded to HOPE college scholarships and various state-backed subsidies.
There will be money allocated to further economic development and emergency funds, along with healthcare and more. As the legislative window of opportunities is shutting down, supporters and opponents hope to get their way. This year’s session is scheduled to end on April 4.
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