A lot of people in Georgia – the U.S. state, not the European country – want to see expanded gambling options. Even the Atlanta Motor Speedway has an idea for a massive expansion project to its NASCAR track that would rival the size of many small cities. While lawmakers remain divided on the subject, mostly due to a level of conservativism in the state, Georgia’s pro sports teams are uniting to tackle the issue of sports gambling, hoping to sway the opinions of lawmakers, as well as residents. Enter the Georgia Professional Sports Integrity Alliance (GPSIA).
According to an exclusive report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the GPSIA consists of the presidents of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, MLB’s Atlanta Braves and United from MLS. As the state grapples with expenses that outpace revenue, there is a dedicated push to find ways to reduce costs or, as an alternative, increase revenue. Sports gambling would be one of the best ways to respond to both, according to the sports leagues.
The GPSIA penned a letter to lawmakers, asserting that they’re behind sports gambling legalization in the state. They explained, “Georgia is the 12th largest state for illegal wagering. It is not going away. That is why we must ensure the industry is above-board and transparent.”
The Braves are owned by Liberty Media, run by president and CEO Greg Maffei. This past Monday, he gave his support to investors on an earnings conference call, explaining, “I think state-by-state, you’re going to continue to see this chip away. It will take time. And there are clearly some states which are unlikely ever, for at least for a long time, to pass it. But major states will do it as a revenue source.”
The subject of gambling of any type is a sensitive one in Georgia. Legalization of the activity is going to be a tough nut to crack, but proponents are doing everything they can to try to make it happen. As opposed to other states that only needed legislators to turn in a bill to the governors for the activity to be accepted, Georgia will first require a constitutional amendment. That can only happen if the majority of the state’s residents approve the measure by through a vote.
That’s the general consensus; however, the GPSIA isn’t so sure. It believes that sports gambling could be allowed without a change to the constitution, but would still most likely put any measure to a public vote. They believe that legalized sports gambling could bring about $50 million in gross revenue to the state and help offset some of the difference between state expenses and revenue. It’s still too early to tell, but 2020 could be a huge year for gambling in the Peach State.