Online Sports Betting to Fund Better Education Outcomes in Georgia?
Lawmakers in Georgia are considering gambling expansion in the state (and potentially, online sports betting as neighboring Tennessee and North Carolina have done) to fund the HOPE scholarship program. The Peach State could be aiming to rake in additional and important funding through a legalized and expanded gambling regime. Right now, lottery money goes to Pre-K education and to pay for better education outcomes in poorer students being able to study for certificates and degrees at Georgia’s technical colleges and universities. In the year ended to June 2019, those funds amounted to $1.2 billion.
However, that amount doesn’t carry the full weight for higher education needs in Georgia. Gambling revenue from casinos, online sports betting and horse racing betting might be set aside for more full rides to college for Georgia’s young people in general, and maybe even more full rides for poorer students than currently exist.
A study undertaken by a group of academics and consultants for the Central Atlanta Progress & Atlanta Downtown Economic Development District in early 2017 put a casino at worth something like $320 to $400 million of ‘new’ spending to the state. However, there is historic resistance to gaming in Georgia.
Gaming’s Less than Stellar History in Georgia
Historically, Georgia has been one of the most conservative U.S. states when it comes to gambling. The only forms of gambling that are allowed are the state lottery and charity bingo. Georgia’s state lottery only became legal as recently as 1993, which just goes to show just how resistant Georgia is to gambling. Cruise ship gaming has been the main way for people to win a few extra dollars, but the state gets no revenue from that.
With all future revenues hopefully going towards helping the education system in Georgia, hence the legislators push for legal sports betting.
Three proposed casinos (Atlanta, Savannah and one near the Florida border) could potentially create more than 30 000 jobs, in addition to bringing in up to $3.6 billion worth of development. With the potential for significant job creation and revenues, it is likely that such a measure could pass a state referendum.
Push for Georgia Sports Betting – but which Model?
Georgia lawmakers are now looking at a resolution that would lead to a state law amendment legalizing in-person sports betting in facilities that have a license.
“We have the lottery, and that doesn’t create a lot of jobs,” Georgia Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) said recently, “This (casinos, sports betting and horse racing) would create thousands of jobs. That’s what I like about it.”, he continued.
Some legislators favor full-scale casinos with sports betting, while others believe approving horse racing should be Georgia’s first pathway into the business of betting. It is worthwhile to note that 13 states now have operational sports betting. The closest of those to Georgia is Mississippi. However, sports betting laws have also been passed in nearby Tennessee and North Carolina.
The Tennessee model (online sports betting without any land casino partner requirement) could be the pathway for Georgia’s lawmakers to follow and raise the most money quickly, without any requirement to spend a fortune in supporting infrastructure. This Tennessee design as favoured by many Georgia lawmakers.
Watch this space as sports betting in Georgia unfolds and becomes a reality.