Georgia Voters Back Sports Betting, But Support Fades

Close to half of voters in Georgia support legalization of sports wagering in the state, but that’s well below levels seen in 2020.

Georgia sports betting
Georgia sports betting
Georgia football players celebrate a play in the CFP title game. Voters in the state favor legalizing sports betting. (Image: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

A recent poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates 48% of those surveyed said they’re fine with the state approving sports betting while 37% are against it. In a similar poll taken in 2020, 57% backed regulator sports betting in the state.

Poll participants contacted by the AJC said they support allowing sports betting in Georgia if the money is going to be spent in a good way, such as for education programs like the HOPE scholarship or for needs-based scholarships,” reports the Journal-Constitution.

During the 2022 midterm election, Georgia Democrat gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams attempted to leverage sports wagering as an avenue for boosting funding for the HOPE scholarship program, but she was soundly defeated by Republican incumbent Brian Kemp.

Georgia Sports Betting Outlook Mixed

There is a need for more educational funding in the fast-growing southern state. In Georgia, lottery spending funds the HOPE college scholarship program. But as Georgia has added population, HOPE is only funding 70% of recipients’ university costs. That shortfall has prompted some politicians to pitch casinos and sports betting as avenues for filling the void.

However, gaming expansion legislation in Georgia — whether it be casinos or sports betting — has a history of faltering. That despite a University of Georgia poll out last October indicating six in 10 Georgians favor bringing casino-resorts to the state.

There’s speculation the political landscape in Georgia, even among Republicans, is shifting toward more hospitable attitudes on gaming expansion.

While Kemp hasn’t recently signaled a clear view regarding casinos, pari-mutuel facilities or sports betting, there’s mounting belief that some of the results from the 2022 midterm elections favor more regulated gaming options in the state. As one example, new Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a Jackson Republican, previously authored sports wagering legislation.

Perhaps adding to the momentum for sports betting legislation this year, former Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton recently said the issue doesn’t require a constitutional amendment, potentially paving the way for easier passage.

Other Polls Odds and Ends

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wasn’t dedicated to sports wagering and touched on other issues, including voters’ views on abortion rights and runoff elections.

Following two Senate runoffs in 2020 and another one in 2022, it appears Georgia voters are tiring of those events as 58% support awarding the victory to the candidate with most votes on Election Day. That would alter the state’s policy of requiring a candidate to garner at least 50% of the votes.

On the issue of abortion, 49% of those queried by the newspaper said abortion access should be easier in Georgia while 24% said current rules should remain in place. Another 21% favor more restrictions.

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