Water Sports

Poll Pours Cold Water on Georgia Sports Betting Hopes

A recent poll found that just 45.6% of those it surveyed supported legalizing online sports betting sites in the southern state — and the gubernatorial candidate that supports mobile wagering isn’t doing any better.

Last Updated:
Oct 26, 2022 2:38 PM ET

Read Time: 3 min

The prospect of legalizing online sports betting in Georgia may not yet be a winner with the state’s voters, gubernatorial or otherwise.

A recent poll, conducted by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia, found that 45.6% of those it surveyed supported legalizing online sports betting sites in the southern state. The supporters slightly outweighed the opponents, as 42.6% of respondents said they opposed legalization and 11.8% said they “don’t know.”

The statewide poll quizzed 1,030 likely voters in early September and late October on several issues and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The poll also found that 59.7% of those surveyed supported allowing casino gambling in Georgia, while 29.1% opposed it and 11.3% were unsure.

Democratic nominee for governor Stacey Abrams earned just 40.7% support in the poll as well. That is significant for sports bettors because it is Abrams who has come out in favor of online sports betting and casino gambling during the campaign, which will end with the elections on November 8. 

“The difference between first-place candidate [Republican Gov. Brian] Kemp’s estimated vote share and Abram’s estimated vote share, at 10.3, is statistically significant,” says the poll, which was commissioned by the Georgia News Collaborative. “In plain English, Kemp leads Abrams in the governor’s race.” 

It’s not good

Here is more plain English: the latest polling is not good for supporters of legal sports betting in Georgia, as both the concept itself and the politician championing the cause lack support.

That dearth of polling support in the gubernatorial race has been consistent, as Abrams currently trails Kemp by an average of 6.7 points, according to RealClearPolitics. However, a 2020 Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll did find that 57% of Georgia voters supported legalizing sports betting, which Abrams backs as a way to provide a permanent source of funding for education. 

While the now supposedly sports-betting-neutral Kemp has mostly steered clear of the issue, Abrams has fought to bring it to the forefront of the campaign, including with television ads that have aired during the all-important football season and that have attacked the incumbent. Atlanta’s professional sports teams have pushed for legal sports betting in Georgia as well, but state lawmakers have thus far failed to make it happen.

“Legalizing online sports betting would attract more investment and increase revenue for the state,” says the Abrams plan. “This could be done immediately through legislation even while legalizing casino gambling would require a change to the [state] constitution. Moreover, online sports betting could immediately generate revenue until casinos are fully developed and opened.”

Georgia is one of several southern states that currently has no legal forms of sports betting. It has no commercial or tribal casinos or pari-mutuel wagering, either.

The Abrams plan for legal betting also includes a 20% tax rate for online sportsbooks, in addition to registration and licensing fees. Online sports betting sites would be overseen by the Georgia Lottery Commission.

The Abrams plan for casinos proposes one to three licenses initially, with the location and size of those facilities subject to studies and other work. Furthermore, a portion of all revenue raised from expanding gaming in the state would go to problem-gambling resources.

“Georgia must provide a pathway for students to secure higher education – especially those who are blocked from receiving this life-changing learning because they can’t afford it,” Abrams said in an August press release. “Right now, Georgia is the only state in the south without need-based financial aid. My plan will change that while providing a permanent stream of revenue that can be used to provide critical financial aid and make technical college free, all without raising taxes and while we grow our economy.”

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