COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — People in 30 states can bet legally on the NCAA Tournament and other sports events.
But for now, Georgia is not one of those places.
There is a longshot bill in the General Assembly that could change all of that.
A couple of weeks ago it looked like all bets on sports gambling legislation in the Georgia General Assembly were off.
Multiple variations of the bill could not get out of the Senate or House.
But there has been a new development. The online sports betting bill was on the way to the legislative graveyard. Then, it found a new life.
The bill appeared dead because a sports online betting bill did not pass out of the House or Senate before Crossover Day earlier this month.
Thursday the sports betting language was attached to a bill promoting – now get this – The Soap Box Derby.
“If it’s something leadership wants … if it’s something that governor’s office asks for, these things can get tacked back onto another bill,” said Brian Robinson, a Republican consultant. “Of course, in this situation, it was attached to a non-controversial Soap Box Derby Bill that would have made the one in Vidalia the official state Soap Box Derby. Much to the chagrin of the Vidalia state representative who was carrying that legislation.”
It happened in the Senate Economic Development Committee when Chairman Brandon Beach hijacked a House bill promoting the Soap Box Derby in Lyons.
The amended bill passed out of committee and is likely headed to the full Senate next week for a vote next week. It would then have to go back to House.
Robinson says that when a bill finds a new life late in the session, there is usually a reason.
“What it tells you, is that it’s got the blessing of some very powerful people under the Gold Dome,” Robinson said. “That’s what this comes down to. A rank-and-file member cannot bring a bill from the dead. But the lieutenant governor can. The Speaker of the House can. And the governor can.”
Is Gov. Kemp behind this? Robinson can only speculate.
“You know, we have seen reports that Gov. Kemp supports having this passed,” Robinson said. “But he has been quiet. We have not seen him on the front lines of this. It is not an issue that he discusses as a priority. It is not something that he mentioned in his state of the state address. None of those things. But there is a chance behind the scenes he’s saying, ‘I want to see this on my desk.’”