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Georgia's Sports Betting Legislation Faces Roadblocks Amid Disagreements Over Tax Revenue Allocation

Georgia's House Higher Education Committee faced another delay in advancing a package of sports betting bills on March 25, with unresolved disputes over the allocation of tax revenue continuing to impede progress. The committee is expected to reconvene on March 27 to vote on potential amendments to the bills, including a proposed increase in the tax rate from 20% to 25% and the removal of promotional deductions for operators. However, the outlook for the online wagering package passing through the General Assembly remains bleak, with sources in Georgia expressing skepticism due to the limited legislative time remaining.

Georgia's Sports Betting Legislation Faces Roadblocks Amid Disagreements Over Tax Revenue Allocation

House sponsor Marcus Wiedower expressed his intention to provide committee members with updated language incorporating the proposed tax increase, promotional deduction changes, and a revised breakdown of fund allocation before the next meeting. Meanwhile, Senate sponsor Bill Cowsert underscored the necessity of securing House approval to advance the bills to a conference committee for further deliberation.

With the General Assembly set to adjourn on March 28, lawmakers are under pressure to expedite the bill's progress, leaving only three days for potential legislative maneuvers.

The central point of contention revolves around the utilization of revenue generated from online sports betting. While current plans earmark tax dollars for Georgia's HOPE scholarship program, committee members grappled with alternative proposals during Monday's discussions, including redirecting funds to fully finance the state's Pre-K program and exploring options for needs-based scholarships.

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Senator Cowsert emphasized the adaptability of the bill's provisions, noting that budgetary decisions would be subject to annual adjustments. However, bipartisan support is essential for passage, given the two-thirds majority required for the bill to pass as a constitutional amendment.

The issue of responsible gambling practices also garnered significant attention during the committee deliberations. Caroline York, a concerned parent, shared her son's struggles with gambling addiction and urged the committee to vote against the measures. Despite potential funds for responsible gambling initiatives, they are not explicitly earmarked in the current bill.

The regulation of daily fantasy sports (DFS) emerged as another contentious issue, with lawmakers debating whether to include DFS regulation within the sports betting bills. While proposals for DFS regulation have circulated since the beginning of the legislative year, concrete provisions have yet to be incorporated into the legislation.

The ongoing debates within the committee underscore the complexity of sports betting legislation in Georgia, touching on critical issues such as tax revenue distribution, responsible gambling measures, and the regulation of ancillary activities like DFS. As time dwindles, the fate of the bills remains uncertain, contingent upon further dialogue and potential amendments.



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