Georgia Rep. Calvin Smyre says he’s met with CEOs of Atlanta pro teams, they want sports gambling bill to pass

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It might be a good bet that Georgians could be legally betting on sports thanks to legislation in the General Assembly.

WRBL News 3 recently talked to Columbus-area House members Calvin Smyre (D) and Richard Smith (R). And both of them say that allowing sports gambling could happen in the final days of the legislative session.

A casino and sports betting bill passed the Georgia Senate on Friday. It now moves to the House, where there seems to be some appetite for it.

“One of the reasons this is in effect is because there are so many people out there who are currently doing it,” Smith said.

And it’s not just the lawmakers and gamblers who want this.

“I have met with all four of the CEOs – the Hawks, the Braves, the Facons and Atlanta United,” Smyre said. “… “They want it.”

What it is still must be determined. The bill that passed the Senate would allow professional as well as college betting – just not on Georgia teams. A House version of the bill would not allow betting on college games – only professional. The House version has passed out of committee but has not made it to the floor for a vote as of early Monday afternoon.

“You can go on this phone and do anything you want to do in terms of betting on sports and other activities,” Smyre said, waiving around his telephone. “People don’t understand that. Why not bring that 60 to 80 to 100 million dollars into our state coffers? So, that’s what we are talking about.”

Smith uses the comparison to online retail.

“I guess the best analogy I can give you is Amazon,” Smith said. “There for a while, we were not collecting sales tax from Amazon. Well, we collect sales tax from all the facilities and stores there in Columbus. Why not collect sales tax from Amazon.”

The Senate bill would require Georgia voters to approve sports gambling. One of the House bills would put sports betting under the Georgia Lottery Corp. That would not require a constitutional amendment.

The Alabama legislature is considering sports gambling.

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