Saturday, October 1, 2022
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Georgia Shuts Down Ballot Measure to Introduce Horse Racing Betting

The State of Georgia is adamant that it would not allow voters to have a say in whether they may bet on sports betting. State Senators voted against a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would have allowed voters to put a measure on the ballot and introduce the possibility of allowing bets on horse races. Presently, the state has no permanent racetracks, something which lawmakers were hoping to change this legislative session.

Senate Finds It Hard to Justify Horse Racing Betting

The senate found multiple issues with the proposal and shut it down in a 33-20 vote with Senate Resolution 131 falling through to meet the requirement for a two-thirds approval to move forward to the House. SR 131 did not fail because of some partisan bias, but rather because of the complex issue that is gambling in Georgia.

Both Republicans and Democrats rallied against the proposal and argued that it would do the state and its residents no good. Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Senator Jeff Mullis said that he was disappointed with his colleagues. It was all about sending SR 131 to the ballot and letting voters decide, a matter that should have been simple enough in the first place.

The senate was also trying to pass another draft, Senate Bill 212, which would have made it possible to authorize up to five horse racing tracks to be based anywhere in the state. Many of the supporters argued that allowing the industry to develop would bring economic benefits to the state, breeders, and fans who are going to continue betting and seek out horse racing elsewhere.

In fact, the senators in favor of the proposal cited a study conducted by the Georgian Southern University in which it was outlined that the horse racing industry could have a $1.28 billion net impact on the state’s economy and lead to the creation of close to 16,000 jobs over the next ten or so years.

Voters Do Not Have the Final Word

Opponents of the bill argued that they did not feel comfortable with voting on the resolution on moral grounds as well. One of the concerns was that horse racing could lead to the proliferation of other forms of gambling. According to some lawmakers, there was a real possibility that the horse racing industry could also create an entry for slot machines and electronic gambling, as they called it.

Another senator objected that for there to be winners, there must also be losers. Georgia has been almost desperately trying to expand its gambling industry as the state has suffered the loss of revenue to illegal and offshore gambling. Efforts have been futile though with the majority of senators and representatives finding the issue a no-go past a certain point.

New York also had a similar opposition that was entrenched and looked insurmountable, but the Empire State. In the meantime, the hopes that sports betting can get some momentum in 2022 may have been dashed with the latest vote.

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