How ’bout this as the ultimate fan friendly experience — on-site betting? Talk about a whole new set of wallets to fleece… what’s that, you say? No way anything like that ever sees the light of day in the Bible Belt? Um, not so fast, my friend.
Senators will get the first crack at sports betting. The initial meeting will occur Tuesday in the offices of the Georgia Lottery Commission. It is a second, post-Labor Day hearing that will bear closer watching.
That will happen at SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. The proposed witness list is impressive: Derek Schiller, president of business for the Braves; Rich McKay, president and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons; and Steve Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks. (We reached out to all three organizations, which declined comment.)
“They will come talk about it, and explain how it might work,” Beach said. “What they’re trying to do is drive attendance. The fans want it. The franchises need it.” [Emphasis added.]
In researching this column, a skeptical GOP leader told us that the push to expand gambling in Georgia has always lacked the voices of “local people of influence.” Atlanta’s three largest pro sport franchises might fill that gap.
Their argument is that high-definition television has made sports enthusiasts far too comfortable in their living rooms. On-site betting would be a new way of keeping ticket-holders engaged and in paying seats.
The Tennessee online-only example offers an alternative to those opposed to casino gaming, fearful that brick-and-mortar operations serve as hubs for sex-trafficking and other bad behavior.
Participants will be able to place bets on smart phones from any location, whether stadiums or sports bars or home. “Geo-fencing” will allow Tennessee to require that bets be placed only by those inside the state.
Those same digital fences could be made much smaller in a Georgia version, perhaps restricting bettors to Phillips Arena, SunTrust Park and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Those brick-and-mortar casinos wouldn’t have to be build. They would already be an established part of the landscape.
“Okay,” you say, “fine, that’s the pros”. No way that trickles down to the college level…
We understand that sports betting has some support from local metro Atlanta interests who hope a portion of the revenue might be applied toward the ballooning expenses associated with hosting such major events as the Super Bowl or the NCAA Final Four.
There’s a fine line between covering expenses and looking for a more direct path for coming up with money to cover those expenses. Perhaps all it’ll take one day is Kirby Smart explaining to the Georgia legislature that their vote is needed to help Georgia win a natty to do the heavy lifting to get this across the finish line. How many gamblers do you figure would like to join the Magill Society?
Maybe I kid, maybe not. All I know is that if there’s enough political cover for it, nobody’s turning down new money.