Georgia House Considering Fantasy Sports Bill

February 28, 2024
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While the Georgia House of Representatives has been slow to take up sports-betting legislation in 2024, a House committee began discussions Tuesday on legislation that would regulate fantasy sports.
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While the Georgia House of Representatives has been slow to take up sports-betting legislation in 2024, a House committee began discussions Tuesday (February 27) on legislation that would regulate fantasy sports.

Fantasy sports is unregulated in the Peach State, where major fantasy contest operators continue to operate despite a 2016 informal opinion from Georgia’s Attorney General that the games are illegal gambling.

The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee began discussions on House Bill 1329 on Tuesday.

“No one’s challenged that, so they continue to play,” said Representative Ron Stephens, the bill’s sponsor, of the attorney general opinion. “This will capture the revenues, it will regulate what is going on today.”

The new bill would license and regulate fantasy sports operators, with a 20 percent tax on adjusted gross revenues and a $1m annual licensing fee for “large operators,” designated as any operator with more than $5m in revenue over the previous 12 months.

All other operators would pay an annual licensing fee of $5,000. The bill would permit any operator offering contests in the state prior to October 2024 to continue offering contests while a decision on their license application remains pending.

Fantasy operators including Underdog Fantasy and Georgia-based PrizePicks spoke in favor of regulating the activity during Tuesday’s hearing.

“This game is occurring today in Georgia, this is not the sports betting argument of well, it's happening illegally, we should make it legal, this is happening legally,” said Josh Kirschner, an attorney representing PrizePicks, which is headquartered in Atlanta.

“What operators are looking for is clarity,” he added. “They're looking for this legislative body to take its authority and provide them with clarity, protection for consumers, and also a chance for the state to capture that revenue.”

Meanwhile, Georgia’s sports-betting situation remains murky.

The Senate approved sports-betting legislation earlier this month, but a late change to the bill requires a constitutional amendment for the bill to take effect. 

A Senate committee approved a resolution to amend the constitution last week, but that amendment would also permit casino gambling, which has traditionally been an even more controversial topic in Georgia. 

A narrower resolution to amend the state constitution strictly to authorize only sports betting was also approved on Tuesday, but the House represents a stiffer obstacle to approval based on previous years' debates on expanded gambling.

For a constitutional amendment, a majority of two-thirds of both chambers would be required to enact the legislation, a daunting threshold that has frequently led supporters to attempt to pursue paths that do not require an amendment instead.

However, a combination of sports-betting supporters who believe a constitutional amendment is necessary and sports-betting opponents have combined to foil those efforts in several different years, including this year’s session.

Georgia’s legislative session ends March 28, with a key deadline of Thursday approaching for bills to cross over into the other chamber. 

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