Changing State Laws For College Sports Betting
Are you new to online sports betting? You’re probably wondering why there is such a fuss about online sports betting in Georgia. There are many reasons why it’s a hotbed of activity here in the Peach State. First of all, Georgia is home to five professional teams, including the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are also part of the Georgia Dome, one of the most successful professional sports franchises in the world, so there is a great deal of local support for these sports franchises.
As with any other business, there are some purists who don’t think anything of online sports betting. But, whether the state actually sees this type of entertainment as illegal gambling or not, it certainly acts like it. No one has ever been arrested for placing a bet on a horse race in Georgia, and any such legislation would be mostly unenforceable in the state. The reason that there isn’t a huge amount of public interest in anti-gambling legislation in Georgia is because most members of the legislature are pro-betting, and most of them are financially tied to the industry.
Why did the Georgia Legislature push through such extreme legislation? The answer is quite simple: they wanted to legalize sports betting in Georgia. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize just how strong the opposition was to legalize sports betting in Georgia until after they had passed the bill. They realized that if they allowed gambling in Georgia – which would then require licenses for all gaming establishments – then they’d lose all their political leverage and find it very difficult to ever pass any meaningful gambling reform in the future. The legislature wasn’t thinking ahead about the inevitable political backlash.
Fortunately, the anti-gambling sentiment in Georgia has died down in the wake of the passage of the new constitutional amendment. Now, the question that should be asked is why it was necessary for the legislature to enact an amendment to begin with. According to Georgia House Majority Leader Chip Morris (R):
“The people of Georgia obviously weren’t buying the argument that gambling is dangerous or unfair. I think they were reading the newspaper the other day and came across an article about an article in Sports Illustrated in which the author mentioned the recent turmoil in Las Vegas. That got me going, since we’ve seen a number of problems there, including the Cline Cellulite suit against William H. Griese, which is yet another example of lax betting rules at sporting events that got folks hurt.” – Chip Morris
Unfortunately, the recent trend in Georgia is that legislators are much more afraid of the perceived negative aspects of legalized sports betting rather than the potential financial benefits. In the end, though, all sorts of fans – including the ones who seem to worry about the risks associated with gambling more than the potential revenue generated by it – will lose money. Those who support legalized sports betting want to see the lines kept open for good players, but those who worry about public policy getting in the way of that have already threatened to pull their support for the new bill. The House leadership had to step in and deal with this opposition effectively by including some controversial language in their latest bill: the “No Unsports Bet” Act. In essence, this Act prohibits anyone from participating in a sports betting event if they either (a) live in Georgia or (b) have an ownership stake in a business that does so.
As noted above, Georgia’s sports betting legislation has been in place for several years; what has changed is the definition of a “gambling device.” According to the amended language, a gambling device is any electronic or mechanical device used as a means of achieving gambling advantage, including any electronic or mechanical device that allows an individual to interact with the lottery results, lottery web sites, or lottery games conducted in multiple locations. Now, anyone who owns a business that offers lottery ticket sales, lottery web sites, or offers online gaming would be included under this definition, whether or not they actually participate in the activity. The language of the law now reads: “A person who conducts gambling activities in Georgia using an Internet protocol address registered in this State may also use the same Internet protocol address to conduct gambling activities outside of Georgia while that person owns or operates a website that is accessible via the Internet to persons not ordinarily located in Georgia who own or operate websites that are accessible through the Internet.”
Although the above changes have occurred, there is still an argument over whether college sports betting should be banned altogether in Georgia. Proponents of the ban argue that gambling can lead to greater teenage participation in recreational sports and improper spending of public funds. Opponents of the ban argue that no one should be financially penalized for enjoying a hobby and that academic institutions should not be forced to cater to every single student’s need to win every single college bet they place. The Georgia Supreme Court will have the final say at a future date.