Commentary: February is Gambling Awareness Month


For almost a decade, the Georgia General Assembly has been dealing with the issue of expanding gambling in Georgia. Every year, the proposed legislation has failed to pass out of the House and the Senate.

This year, once again, gambling is being discussed at the Capitol. In fact, on the second day of the 2024 legislative session, enabling legislation for sports betting (SB 172) without a constitutional amendment was brought back up in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee and voted out to go to the Senate floor for a vote. Thankfully, there was not a vote taken and the bill was tabled.

You see, sports gambling should be opposed by legislators and citizens because the detriments of sports gambling far exceed the benefits. Sports gambling is one of the most dangerous forms of gambling because of its easy accessibility and its ability to create addiction. The American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM 5) classifies gambling as an addictive product like heroin, opioids, alcohol, and cocaine.

While I know it is being said that many are already doing this kind of gambling anyway, we must understand that just because somebody is doing something illegal does not mean that it should be made legal. Something as detrimental as sports gambling made legal will be like putting gasoline on a fire. It will make something that is already bad, much worse.

Georgia is already the number state for business. We do not need sports gambling. It is a well-established fact that for every $1 in new revenue from gambling, the cost to taxpayers, DHS agencies, and governments is at least $3 to $5.

Also, we can expect to hear again a familiar argument, “Just let the people decide,” with a constitutional amendment put on the ballot. However, the people in one way have already “decided.” They decided when they elected their legislators to represent them at the Capitol and not allow anything to be put on a ballot that would be detrimental to our state!

When the people voted for their legislators, they were deciding on who best represented their views and how those views would be applied at the state Capitol. Citizens have a level of trust in the Georgia General Assembly that their legislators would not allow a constitutional ballot initiative to be brought before the people or pass any bills if it is something that could harm the state.

There is also the possibility that an attempt to go through the Georgia Lottery to legalize sports gambling will happen again. This means legislation would only be required to have a majority vote in both chambers, rather than a two-thirds majority with a constitutional amendment.

Therefore, we are asking each Georgia Baptist church to observe a Gambling Awareness Sunday in the month of February, so that our congregations can be informed on the detriment of gambling expansion in our state.

We are providing resources such as a video, sermon notes, a Bible Study, gambling stats and a bulletin insert. Here is the link to those resources:

The facts are clear that gambling expansion, through devices such as sports betting, horse racing and casinos would cause an uptick in addictions, bankruptcies, lost jobs, crime, children at risk, sex trafficking, suicide, and personal and government economic issues.

The real, devastating facts about gambling expansion will be overridden with placebos on how much it's going to benefit the state overall. This is why it is important that we get the Biblical and social facts out to our congregations now!

See our recent GBC Sports Gambling Resolution:

Also, please be aware that I am available to come and speak to your church on these ethical issues. Please contact me at


Mike Griffin is the Public Affairs Representative of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.