Georgia Sen. Brandon Beach Plans for 2024 Retail Casino & Online Sports Betting Bill

The 2024 Georgia legislative session will likely see another bill aiming to legalize gambling expansion, including retail casinos and online sports betting. During a meeting of the legislature’s Joint Committees of Economic Development & Tourism, state Sen. Brandon Beach revealed a draft of his planned legislation. He said he wants to introduce the bill on the first day of the 2024 session, Jan. 8.

Any gambling changes require amending the Georgia state constitution, so the legislation would go to voters on the November 2024 ballot if it passes through the legislature. If it passes, it would require the Georgia legislature to create a gaming commission to oversee gambling in the state.

Beach emphasized that he is presenting a draft, and he might change the language, but his plans involve a few types of gambling:

  • Mobile sports betting
  • Three destination casino resorts
  • One (possibly two) pari-mutuel race track

Beach said that based on polls, he believes that Georgia residents will approve gambling expansion. He added that on a trip to neighboring North Carolina a few years back, 85% of license plates in a Cherokee casino were from Georgia. That implies that the state is likely losing potential tax revenue.

Gambling Expansion Could Bring $900M to the State

Beach said he estimates that his proposed gambling expansion could bring up to $900 million a year in tax revenue for Georgia. He said that he’s open to suggestions on where the money would go, but his draft calls for the money to go into several state funds and programs:

  • Half of the proceeds would go to a Freight and Logistics Fund designed to improve infrastructure in the state.
  • Mental health programs, including gambling addiction, would receive 20%.
  • Another 20% would go toward rural healthcare.
  • The remaining 10% would fund Georgia’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Beach added that he might add language to distribute some tax revenue to help attract major sports events like the Super Bowl, Final Four, and golf tournaments. He gave Texas as an example, which has a $100 million fund to attract such events. Beach added that while he’s all for legal sports betting, the three casinos and racetrack will be the primary drivers in boosting the state economically and providing thousands of jobs.

He used Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor as his vision for a destination resort, including nightlife, shopping, lodging, and more. Beach said that the Boston resort now generates 60% of its revenue from non-gambling sources. That means resort casinos could boost the local economy beyond casino gaming.

Could 2024 Bring a Positive Outcome?

Georgia is one of only a few states with no gambling, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been proposals. The state is one of the nation’s leaders in failed attempts, and the 2024 legislative session will be the sixth year in a row with a gambling expansion proposal.

Beach’s planned bill would be his second try in a year. In February, he was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers looking to legalize sports betting without changing the state’s constitution. That effort, along with another bill, died in the state senate. Both bills failed to receive a two-thirds approval in the state senate, as Beach’s bill fell short by just one vote.

There are reasons to be hopeful for 2024. The biggest one is that it’s a presidential election year, and many Georgia residents will head to the polls. That could persuade some holdout lawmakers to change their minds. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has also said that he’s open to signing a sports betting bill.

Furthermore, Georgia could be losing a lot of potential tax revenue to neighboring states. Sports betting is legal in Tennessee, while North Carolina legalized online sports betting and is expected to launch before June 2024. Hard Rock Bet also resumed taking bets in Florida on Dec. 7.

Are Online Casinos in Georgia’s Future?

The odds have never been better for sports betting and gambling expansion in Georgia. But that doesn’t mean it will happen. It remains to be seen what the final bill will look like and how lawmakers and potentially voters will respond. Polls suggest that Georgians support that expansion and could approve it if it appears on the ballot.

Another supporting fact is the success of the online lottery in the state. Interestingly, Georgia was the first state to offer lottery games online. It is one of nine states and the District of Columbia to sell full-featured online lotteries with instant win games. Georgians have responded very well to iLottery, with sales going from $1 million in 2015 to $310 million in 2022.

If the 2024 effort succeeds, the combination of retail casinos plus online sports betting could pave the road for eventual online casinos in Georgia. The state’s long-standing instant online lottery has already accustomed state residents to similar games.

It will likely be several years before Georgia is ready to consider iGaming, probably not until the construction of the proposed retail casinos is complete. Moreover, states rarely succeed in passing such legislation on the first try. Those hoping for Georgia online casinos are likely looking at a 5- to 10-year wait, even if all goes well.

About the Author

Chav Vasilev

Chav Vasilev

After years of managing fast-casual restaurants, Chav turned his passion for sports and occasional slot wins into a career as an iGaming writer. Sharing his time between Europe and the US, he has been exposed to betting and gambling for years and has closely followed the growth in the US. Chav is a proponent of playing responsibly and playing only at legal online sites. When not writing, you will find him watching and betting on sports, especially soccer, or trying to land the next big bonus on a slot.
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