Connecticut Gambling

Gamblers place their bets on sports for the first time at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., Thursday Sept. 30, 2021.

(The Center Square) — Illegal gambling continues to thrive in the United States because of states like Georgia that ban betting on sports.

That’s according to a new report from the Consumer Choice Center, an advocacy group fighting for "lifestyle freedom, innovative technologies, and smart regulation." The group looked at all 50 states to evaluate how consumer-friendly their sports betting markets are and, unsurprisingly, Georgia ranked last.

According to the report, Georgia and 14 other states have a ban on sports betting. Despite the bans, the illegal sports betting market generated an estimated $50 billion to $200 billion in revenue in 2020.

"The key to stamping out the illegal sports betting market is legalizing sports betting, and having an open and competitive market where legal sportsbooks compete for consumers," David Clement, North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Center and co-author of the report, said in an announcement. "Not only does this help grow the legal market, it actively discourages consumers from placing bets in the illegal market which is ripe for fraud and abuse.

"Georgia should immediately legalize sports betting, and do so in a way that opens the market and encourages competition," Clement added. "Since the overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018, 30 states have sought to legalize sports betting, but not all states have created an open and competitive market."

Clement suggested states follow New Jersey’s lead and benefit from sports wagering. The Garden State has generated more than $229.1 million in state tax revenue and more than $1.8 billion in sportsbook revenue since legalizing sports betting, Clement said.

"The reasons for New Jersey’s success are simple: they keep taxes low on sportsbooks, mobile sports betting has become a priority, and while there is government oversight, most of the industry is run by commercial sportsbooks," Clement said. "This could be easily replicated in Georgia."

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 Senate Resolution 135 and Senate Bill 142. Both measures died.