As Super Bowl 53 Nears, Georgia Shows No Signs of Legalizing Sports Betting

The biggest sporting event in the United States will host its 53rd game in 2019, making Atlanta, Georgia it’s home for the third time and hosting for the first time will be the newly-built Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

But there won’t be anywhere in Georgia to legally bet on the game in person.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA, the federal law prohibiting states from legalizing sports betting. Nevada was exempt from the law, and Delaware, New Jersey, and Mississippi are the first states to legalize sports betting following the federal repeal.

Currently, Georgia does not have any pending legislation on the legalization of sports betting and would require Georgia voters to approve a state constitutional amendment.

Georgia Representative Ron Stephens told the Savannah Morning News he is drafting a casino resorts bill, which would also legalize sports betting in the state, and if passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed by the newly-elected governor, then the issue could be placed on the November 2019 ballot.

“After 25 years, it’s time for the people to vote whether they want to continue gambling or not,” said Stephens in reference to the state legalizing gambling for the first time by passing legislation and creating the Georgia Lottery 25 years ago.

Georgia will hold its gubernatorial election to elect a new governor on November 6, 2018, alongside elections for both state and local governments.

Both candidates for Georgia’s governor made their stances on sports betting and gambling in interviews with the Macon Telegraph

Republican candidate Brian Kemp rejected the idea of legalizing sports betting in his statement.

“I do not support sports betting in Georgia,” said Kemp. “As a Georgia grad and diehard Dawg fan, losing the national championship was painful enough. Would have been even worse if I had money on the game!”

On the other side, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams said she would be in favor gambling legislation but only if tax revenue from gambling was sent directly to and provided aid for Georgia schools.

“As House Democratic Leader, I refused to support gambling legislation that did not also ensure the revenue went to need-based aid for Georgia students,” said Abrams. “Georgia must dedicate any funds from gambling to addressing our current opportunity gap and open the doors of higher education to everyone.”

Even if Abrams were to become governor, the bill, or any sports betting or gambling bill, faces an uphill challenge of being signed into law. The Georgia General Assembly currently has a Republican majority (153-83) and many have blocked previous attempts to legalize sports betting or gambling.

Each year, the Super Bowl is the most bet on sporting event in the country, and bets placed on the upcoming game consistently break money wagered on the previous matchup.

According to ESPN gambling writer David Purdum, a record $158.58 million was bet at Nevada sportsbooks on the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33 upset of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, surpassing the previous record of $138.48 million bet on Super Bowl LI by over $20 million.

In addition, a report from the American Gaming Association (AGA) in January 2018 estimated Americans would wager around $4.76 billion on Super Bowl LII with 97% of total wagers being placed outside of the U.S. at offshore betting websites.

With sports betting and gambling legislation not up for a vote any time soon, the people living and visiting the state will likely have to wait for Georgia to host the Super Bowl for a fourth time before placing a bet in the state.