Last Updated on June 19, 2020

According to Beau Evans of The Augusta Chronicle, sports betting legislation is back on the table in Georgia as states across the country are looking for creative new ways to add tax revenue in 2021. Legalizing online sports betting is a sure-fire way to boost Georgia’s bottom line in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Georgia State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) is pushing a measure that he says could result in more than $60 million in tax revenue each year.

“This right here, the online betting program, is I think an answer to adding significant revenue dollars to a system [that] moving down the road will continue to need more dollars,” Jones said Friday. “And you’re taking an activity that is currently going on right now.”

 

On Friday, the Senate Special Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would put sports betting under the umbrella of the state’s lottery system. The tax revenue brought in by sports betting would funnel money into Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program and early childhood education.

States like California, New York, and Illinois are all either pushing for legislation — or tweaking existing laws — to increase tax revenue. States like New Jersey, where online sports betting is fully legal, are reaping the benefits of in-state and out-of-state bettors.

Although Jones has pushed for sports betting legislation and failed in the past, this time around might be different. The Republican lawmaker might be able to find support for the bill from across the aisle. Georgia State Senator Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) is open to the idea of looking for “additional revenue streams,” which could include sports betting. Sen. Williams is afraid of seeing massive cuts in the state going forward.

“I have consistently said that we can’t cut ourselves out of this deficit that we’re facing right now,” said Williams, D-Atlanta. “And we have to look at additional revenue streams.”

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