Senate committee debates the constitutionality of the Georgia Sports Betting Bill
The first time this year senate Hearing on sports betting in Georgia spawned the usual voices against a gambling-related problem.
It is. Jeff Mullis introduced SB 142GA sports betting would legalize through the lottery to the Regulated Committee on Industry and Utilities Thursday.
Many in the room were familiar with sports betting suggestions. The committee heard SB 403 last year, though that bill died without much momentum.
While the committee’s mood was relatively neutral on the bill, there were some particularly fiery opponents who spoke out against it.
Is Sports Betting Law Constitutional in Georgia?
There is debate over whether SB 142 and a similar law could be legally passed in Georgia. The state is calling for a constitutional amendment to expand casino gambling.
Robert Highsmith of the Atlanta Hawks said it would be constitutional to pass the law but admitted that if it were changed it would be “cleaner”. An amendment to the constitution would also require a referendum to be held on Election 2022, he added.
Highsmith noted that casino gambling is not defined in the constitution. He also pointed out that the Georgia Lottery regulates all coin operated entertainment games such as pinball and skee ball. These games inherently have an element of skill like sports betting, he said.
Committee Chairman Bill Cowsert didn’t seem totally sold in one way or another. Mullis confirmed with Cowsert that he also has a constitutional amendment ready if necessary.
“I have a constitutional amendment ready,” said Mullis. “But I’ve heard from the Attorney General and they’re not sure you need one. I had a legislative council, some say you don’t need one, others say … it would make it cleaner. So the debate is all around us, but I have one available and ready if needed. “
Differences between Senate and House proposals
There are a few major differences between the SB 142 and HB 86::
- SB 142 taxed sports betting at 10% compared to 20% in HB 86, which was changed on Monday. There is talk of possibly also increasing the rate of the Senate law.
- SB 142 allows betting on college sports other than games, including schools in Georgia. HB 86 would prohibit All bets on university sports.
- The Senate’s proposal allows retail partnerships with anyone holding a master’s license in coin-operated entertainment games. The House proposal only legalizes online sports betting.
Doom and Darkness are against sports betting in Georgia
There were only three opponents who testified against the bill, all from religious organizations.
Mike Griffin, Public Affairs Representative for the Georgia Baptist ConventionThe same arguments for legalizing sports betting – increased education funding and eliminating the black market – are later used to promote drugs and prostitution. He also cited a 2016 Bloomberg story about the porn giant Lively and daily fantasy sportswhich for him showed a clear connection between online gambling and porn.
“It’s not that they’re going to show you porn – they’re going to seduce you, they’re going to post things out there to trick you into coming,” Griffin said.
Virginia Galloway, Regional Field Director for Coalition of Faith and Freedomsuggested that it is better to keep sports betting illegal as offshore operators do not have the same perceived rights as regulated sports betting:
“The contrast between illegal gaming providers and government-sanctioned operators is that no illegal gaming provider can lay down a lien on your home to collect the gaming losses as legal operators can. No illegal operator will send free gambling bets direct mail to your house to lure you back like legal operators do. “
Joshua Johnson, a pastor from Gwinnett Countyinsured more “broken houses” when sports betting is legalized:
“The main reason relationships end is money problems, and getting this bill through will only increase the number of failed relationships, broken homes, destitute citizens and addicted people.”
Late. David Lucas took a tough stance against those who bring morality to the situation:
“Morality cannot be legally established. Immediately after the civil war, Georgia played. The soldier’s widows played to raise money for the children. It’s in the history books. … It is debatable, we have people coming in to talk about it, but I have never seen a preacher refuse a donation in church that came from gambling. “