In an update on October 27, 2023, 11:26h, it was reported that despite positive news earlier in the year with Kentucky and North Carolina legalizing mobile sports betting, the prospects for 2024 are not as promising. The focus is now on Georgia as the best hope for legalizing sports betting next year.
The reasoning for Georgia being the next potential state to approve sports betting is due to the opposition from tribal operators in California, the Texas legislature being out of session until 2025, and the uncertainty of mobile sports betting in Florida due to legal challenges. This leaves Georgia as the most viable option for the expansion of sports betting.
Eilers & Krejeck Gaming (EKG) noted that Georgia lawmakers and stakeholders have continued to show interest in sports betting, despite previous failed attempts. The state’s appeal to sportsbook operators is evident by its 3.2% share of the U.S. adult population.
The potential shape of sports betting in Georgia will depend on whether legislators decide to combine casinos, horse racing, and sports betting into one bill. EKG believes that a standalone sports betting bill, regulated by the Lottery, would have a better chance of being passed.
Polling data released earlier this year indicated bipartisan support for casino gaming and an increasing, although mixed, support for sports wagering in Georgia. Former Chief Justice Harold Melton suggested that a constitutional amendment may not be necessary, making the passage of gaming expansion legislation potentially easier.
In the 2022 midterm election, sports wagering was a focal point for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, who sought to use it to boost funding for the HOPE scholarship program. However, the emphasis on gaming expansion legislation in the upcoming session may require standalone bills for approval.
Other states that could surprise in 2024 include Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma. However, Georgia remains the primary focus for the expansion of sports betting in the coming year. Alabama and South Carolina are believed to be unlikely candidates for sports betting legislation.