Four of the major league professional sports teams based in Atlanta are teaming up to push for legalization of some forms of sports betting in Georgia.
The Georgia Professional Sports Alliance, a conglomerate of the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United voiced support for mobile and online wagering in a letter published just before the start of the new legislative session in the Georgia General Assembly.
In the letter, signed by the respective presidents of the franchises, the executives make their case.
They argue in-state sports betting is already happening in Georgia regardless of its legality, therefore Georgia should start regulating and taxing what the sports leaders estimate is a covert $1.5 billion industry.
“A new state law to legalize mobile and online professional sports wagering, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards, will bring needed revenue to Georgia,” the letter in part reads, “and will offer safeguards to protect the integrity of professional sports, disinfecting a $1.5 billion illegal wagering industry in our state.”
But the beginning of this most recent push to legalizing sports gambling goes back to May 2018, when the Supreme Court overturned a 1992 federal law that effectively outlawed commercial sports betting in most states.
Sports betting laws have passed, are pending or in a pre-launch phase in 19 states, including Colorado, Illinois and New Hampshire.
However, proponents of expanding the available forms of gambling in Georgia still face hurdles. Legalizing gambling beyond the state’s lottery would require voters to approve a constitutional amendment, which would need to be initiated after a two-thirds vote from the state Senate and House.
CEO Steve Koonin of the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena and CEO Derek Schiller of the Atlanta Braves spoke to GPB’s Bill Nigut on Political Rewind this week about their concerted push for mobile sports betting.