Georgia Senate passes constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting; will appear on 2024 ballot if passed in the House

The Georgia State Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 579, related to sports betting, on Feb. 27 by a vote of 42-12 with two members absent and one not voting.

The resolution would amend the Georgia Constitution to authorize the state legislature to provide for sports betting. Eighty percent of the tax revenue derived from sports betting would be used to fund pre-kindergarten programs and college scholarships, 15% would be used to fund gambling addiction treatment programs, and 5% would be used for sports promotions.

Among Senate Democrats, 19 voted in favor, and two voted against. Among Senate Republicans, 22 voted in favor, and 10 voted against.

To refer the amendment to the ballot, a two-thirds (66.67%) vote is required in both the Georgia State Senate and the Georgia House of Representatives. At least 120 of the 180 representatives must vote to pass the amendment for it to appear on the ballot. The House is composed of 100 Republican Representatives and 78 Democratic Representatives. Georgia has a Republican trifecta. The Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Constitutional amendments do not require the governor’s signature to appear on the ballot.

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case, Murphy v. NCAA, regarding the legality of a law implementing New Jersey Public Question 1 (2011). On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting, thereby overturning the federal ban on sports betting and allowing states to legalize sports betting.

As of 2024, sports betting was legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Five of the states—New Jersey (2011), Arkansas (2018), Colorado (2019), Maryland (2020), and South Dakota (2020)—legalized sports betting through a ballot measure.

Measures to legalize sports betting have also been proposed in California and Missouri for 2024.

Additional Reading;

Georgia 2024 ballot measures