Stacey Abrams calling for legalized sports betting, constitutional amendment for casinos

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful releases plan for need-based financial aid, free technical college
Abrams “will highlight her plans to create jobs...and grow Georgia’s economy."
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 11:43 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2022 at 2:04 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Two days after delivering what her campaign called a major economic address, Democrat Stacey Abrams outlined her full plan calling for legalized sports betting in Georgia that she said would fully fund need-based financial aid and make technical college free to attend.

On Thursday, Abrams also called for a constitutional amendment to allow casinos in Georgia that, she said, would generate revenue to allow investments in education while also growing jobs and the economy.

“Georgia must provide a pathway for students to secure higher education,” said Abrams. “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.”

RELATED: What to expect in Kemp vs. Abrams, round two

Abrams’ plan would tax sports betting at 20% – the same rate as Tennessee – while also implementing licensing fees. The plan would also propose one to three licenses to open casinos in Georgia as an initial investment.

“If Georgia were to legalize sports betting, and depending on who is allowed to take wagers, the state would become one of the bigger markets in the U.S. for bookmakers almost overnight,” said Geoff Zochodne, sports betting journalist at Covers. “The size of Georgia’s population alone suggests it would be a prize for sportsbook operators; Ohio’s population is in the same ballpark and all of the major names are lining up to enter that market ahead of its Jan. 1, 2023, launch date for legal sports betting.

“At least one major operator has signaled its interest in Georgia as well, FanDuel Group, which announced in June 2021 that it would park a new technology campus in Atlanta,” Zochodne said. “FanDuel said it plans to grow its workforce in that city to around 900 people over five years.”

Georgia is currently one of only two states that does not offer need-based financial aid for students.

Abrams campaign citied studies projecting the potential for billions in economic impact. In 2021, the fiscal note to bill legalizing sports betting found the increase in annual net revenue to the state would be between $23.8 million and $37.9 million in fiscal year 2023, the first year in which sports betting would be operational under the law.

According to a 2015 study prepared for the legislature, a plan for six casinos could have a $5 billion economic impact, create over 30,000 permanent jobs and bring $288 million in tax revenue. Abrams said with three casinos as an initial target, Georgia could net between $150-200 million per year.

“There’s also the opportunity for Georgia to generate tax revenue for itself, albeit how much would depend on tax rate, the number of operators, and whether wagering would be in person, online, or both,” Zochodne said. “In Tennessee, where sports betting is conducted purely online, bookmakers took about $215.8 million in bets during June, which translated into about $2.6 million in tax for the state. Given the lack of legal options at the moment in Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina, there’s an opportunity for Georgia to attract bettors from across state lines as well.”

On Tuesday, Abrams also announced she would use the state’s budget surplus to finance a tax refund.

Also on Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp - the man Abrams hope to unseat this fall - was expected to release details of his inflation reduction plan.

This is Abrams’ second bid to become the nation’s only Black female governor. She and Kemp faced each other in 2018 in a race to succeed then-Gov. Nathan Deal. Kemp won that contest by only a few thousand votes, and Abrams has yet to concede the election.