FILE - Sports Betting Gambling Wager Wagering

(The Center Square) — Georgia is one of the largest markets without legalized sports betting, and the state could rival others that have already legalized such wagering.

While the state does not have sports wagering, it does have a lottery. Last week, the Georgia Lottery Corp. reported its most profitable first quarter since its start in 1993.

The analysis found that Georgia, one of 15 states without legalized sports betting, could generate $600 million of revenue annually. The Empire State of the South could rival states like Michigan or Virginia if it legalized sports betting.

The Peach State’s “population rivals Ohio’s, and officials in Georgia have shown some recent interest in legalization, too,” PlayUSA said in a report. “The strength and positioning of the state lottery could complicate the proposed implementation, but we’ll choose to be optimistic for now.”

PlayUSA, a content and resource center for the legal gambling industry that focuses on the United States, predicted that at least two states will legalize sports betting next year. Georgia lawmakers have considered legalizing sports betting and casino gambling in the past.

In March, for example, the Georgia House Economic Development and Tourism Committee signed off on versions of bills that could have opened the door to sports betting. Both measures died.

Additionally, a Consumer Choice Center, an advocacy group fighting for “lifestyle freedom, innovative technologies, and smart regulation,” earlier this year found illegal gambling continues to thrive in the United States because of states like Georgia that ban betting on sports. The group looked at all 50 states to evaluate consumer-friendly sports betting markets.

Unsurprisingly, Georgia ranked last.

During this year’s gubernatorial election, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who unsuccessfully sought to unseat Gov. Brian Kemp, proposed expanding sports betting and casino gaming to fund a need-based financial aid program for higher education.

“The governor’s position remains as it has always been,” a spokesman for Kemp, a Republican, told The Center Square. “In order for sports betting to be made legal in Georgia, it will require a constitutional amendment that will have to be voted on both by the Legislature and the very voters of the state. Ultimately, this issue is in their hands.”