The legality of sports betting in Georgia

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The legality of sports betting in Georgia

Georgia is one of the most anti-gambling states in America.

No casinos. No horse racing. Definitely no sports betting, the next frontier in United States gaming. The only things you can do are play fantasy sports and charitable raffles, for the most part.

Right now, Georgia is one of 13 states where sports betting is nowhere in sight. All 37 other states have either legalized it, have legislation in the works, or have proposed a bill.

But there was some light at the end of the tunnel earlier in November. Leaders from the Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta United sent a letter to Georgia lawmakers asking them to legalize online sports betting.

What Will It Take?

Georgia has an additional hurdle in that it needs to amend the state constitution to legalize sports betting, which is difficult considering a bill needs 120 state representatives and 37 senators to pass the legislation in the General Assembly.

But in addition to the teams lobbying for legalized betting, Governor Brian Kemp’s call to cut spending (or increase tax revenue) prompted a panel to explore expanded gambling in the state.

Kemp opposes casino gambling, but has said that he won’t stand in the way of any bill that opposes HOPE, a scholarship program that awards Georgia high schoolers scholarships just for attending public universities in the state.

What Are the Arguments For Sports Betting?

Those in favor argue that people are betting on sports anyway — Georgia is reportedly the 12th-largest state for illegal betting — and that the state needs to provide a fully regulated market.

The four Atlanta teams are in favor for two reasons. One, it will protect and regulate a billion-dollar industry that already exists underground with no oversight — they want to protect the integrity of their games and players as it relates to gambling. Game-fixing is much easier to detect when sports betting is legal and regulated.

And two, they believe it will create increased engagement among fans.

What Are the Arguments Against Sports Betting?

Gambling is addictive, can have financial consequences and Georgia has long been anti-gambling in most facets.

“It’s sad that these great American pastimes want to bring in the predatory gambling business to take advantage of their fans,” Virginia Galloway, a lobbyist with Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this week. “For the sake of more revenue, these teams are ready to drop their pants — and hardworking Georgians will be on the hook for the havoc it wreaks, both socially and economically.”

When Will We See Sports Betting in Georgia?

Don’t count on it anytime soon. It’s possible we see some breakthroughs in the next few years, but that would be not be the favorite right now. It’s possible it never happens at all, but if it did, 2022 would likely be the earliest.

Sports Betting Terms + How To

If you’re looking to get started in sports betting, there are a few things you need to know.

  1. Favorites vs. Underdogs
    When creating odds for a game, books first determine who is the favorite and who is the underdog based on power rankings, statistics, head-to-head matchups, home field advantage and several other factors like injuries and even weather. The favorite is the stronger team expected to win the game, while the underdog is expected to lose.
    However, in order to level the playing field, sportsbooks provide risks and rewards for each, otherwise everyone would just bet favorites all the time. Underdogs receive points and bigger payouts, while favorites give (or lay) points and have more expensive prices.
    Underdogs will have a plus sign (+) in front of their odds while favorites will have a minus sign (-).
  2. Point Spread
    The point spread is the great equalizer. The point spread is a margin of victory projection assigned by oddsmakers to encourage balanced betting action on both teams. Say the Georgia Bulldogs are a 6-point favorite (also known as -6) against the Florida Gators, which they were earlier this year.
    If you bet on Georgia, it needs to win the game by 7 points or more for you to win your bet.
    If Georgia wins by 7 points or more, you “cover.”
    If Georgia wins by exactly 6 points, that is called a “push,” which means you get back the money you originally bet.
    If Georgia wins by 5 points or fewer (or loses the game all together), you lose your bet.
    Point spreads are most common in high-scoring sports line football and basketball.
  3. Moneyline
    With a moneyline, you’re only betting on who will win the game — no point spread — but it’s adjusted for team strength. Moneylines are available for all sports, but most common in baseball and hockey.
    For example, the Atlanta Braves might be -150 favorites against the New York Mets, who are +140 underdogs. If you wanted to bet the Braves, you would need to risk $150 in order to win $100. If the Braves win, you win $100, plus you get the $150 you originally bet back. If the Braves lose, you lose the $150 you risked.
    In turn, if you bet $100 on the Mets and they were able to pull off the upset victory, you would win $140, plus get your original $100 bet back. If the Mets lose, you lose $100.
  4. Over/Under
    Also known as a total, it’s a wagering option involving the combined points scored by both teams in a game. Bettors can wager on whether the game will go over or under the total. Points scored in overtime will count toward the total.
    Totals are created by the oddsmakers and adjusted with things like pace of play, offensive and defensive efficiency, specific matchups and more in mind.
    For example, a college basketball game between Georgia Tech and Syracuse might have a total of 135. If you bet the under, the teams would need to combine for 134 points or fewer in order for you to win your over/under bet. If you bet the over, the two teams would need to score 136 points or more for you to win.
  5. What does -110 mean?
    Oddsmakers put a “tax” on every bet, which is typically called the “juice” or “vig”. The juice is the commission you have to pay to the sportsbook for them to accept your wager.
    Typically, standard juice is considered -110 — which commonly referred to as “10 cent juice.”
    This three-digit number is listed to the right of the odds on every team. You might see the Atlanta Falcons listed as a 3-point favorite, which appears as Falcons -3 (-110). So you would need to risk $110 in order to win $100 if you wanted to bet on Pittsburgh.
    If Atlanta doesn’t cover the spread, you lose the $110 you risked. But if they do cover, you win $100, plus you get the $110 you risked back.
    Juice is constantly being adjusted based on how the game is being bet. If lots of bettors are taking the Falcons at -3, you may see the juice rise from -110 to -120. Essentially, books are forcing you to may a higher price in order to bet the popular team. If the Steelers continue to be bet heavily, the line will next move from Steelers -3 to -3.5.
    Juice is also built into moneylines, over/unders and futures odds.