Guide to Georgia’s Gambling Laws
Gambling in Georgia and its laws are under the thumb of state prohibition for the most part with the state being one of the most restrictive states in the Union. State laws ban most forms of gambling and any real money game involving cards. On the other and more relaxed hand, Georgia’s lottery is one of the few in the United States to be offered online.
See the below table for the state-of-play on sports betting in Georgia, online casino laws in Georgia, gambling online etc.
|Gambling Type||Legal Land-Based||Legal Online|
|Fantasy Sports (DFS)||N/A||Yes|
Georgia Gambling Tax Rate
Georgia has a 6 % state tax on gambling winnings.
Federal taxes may be applicable on large wins.
Georgia Legal Gambling Age
The gambling age for ALL legal gambling in Georgia is 18.
Georgia Sports Betting Laws
In May 2018, New Jersey won its challenge to the Federal Government ban on sports betting in the USA. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law to end the federal prohibition of sports betting.
However, lawmakers in Georgia see things somewhat differently and the answers to the questions ‘is sports betting legal in Georgia?’ and ‘is online sports betting legal in Georgia?’ are both overwhelmingly strong “No’s”.
It seems the stereotype of southern hospitality doesn’t extend through to sports bettors in Georgia.
Sports Betting in Georgia
Sports betting along with many types of betting is prohibited in Georgia and it is quite unlikely that will change soon. Gambling proponents have long been arguing in favor of extending legal gambling to include sports betting in Georgia, however, the state is firmly under the control of a strong anti-gambling State Legislature. Lawmakers have had zero luck expanding some of the more common and more conventionally accepted types of gambling, let-alone controversial sports betting.
We will advise you of changes in Georgia’s stance towards sports betting as details come to hand, while other states take legalization onboard.
Sports Betting Online
On the other hand, while Online Sports Betting is also currently prohibited in Georgia, there is some good news for aficionados of gambling online in Georgia.
Whilst theoretically not considered sports betting under Federal statutes, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), and the State Lottery of Georgia are both completely legal to play online in the state for its residents-and-visitors.
With DFS, it is accurate to say that whilst state lawmakers in Georgia have made some attempts to legislate on the legalization of the practice, progress has been slow. All DFS sites continue to offer their real money games online unabated even though the State of Georgia’s lawmakers have not made-up-their-minds on DFS one-way-or-another for now.
Casinos in Georgia
As for casinos, there is not a single land-based casino in the entire state of Georgia, and it doesn’t look like will be changing any time in-the-foreseeable-future. In June 2017, State Governor of Georgia, staunch anti-gambling Republican Nathan Deal, personally blocked an attempt by the state’s small majority of progressive-minded GOP senators to legalize casino gambling with House Bill Number 158 and allow two casinos to be built in Georgia.
Georgia’s Water and Land-based Casinos
It’s not all bleak news for gamblers wanting to play casino games in Georgia. There are two cruise ship casinos running out of Georgia where casino play is legal. One of the cruise ships docks in Brunswick and the other in Savannah. These casino boats sail from Georgia three miles into international waters where casino gambling is legal. Georgia casino cruises are available during-the-day with some cruise lines offering an evening cruise from time-to-time.
A total of 225 slot machines are available on the cruise ship casinos and a total of 17 table games are offered for-play-at-sea.
Online Casino Laws in Georgia
Whilst there are no laws explicitly banning online casinos gambling in Georgia, the general legal definitions of betting and gambling devices and machines are deemed wide enough to encompass bans on online gambling of most kinds.
As a result, all potential online players in the state of Georgia should accept that online gambling is against state law and as such, avoid playing both off-shore and U.S-based-online-casinos whilst in the state limits of Georgia.
Be advised, Georgian authorities actively pursue gamblers who run foul of these online gambling laws. As recently as 2012, State Prosecutors cracked down on a network of internet cafes that were running an underground quasi-online-casino-network in Georgia.
With the exceptions of DFS and the official Georgia State Lottery, please understand that online gambling is unacceptable in the eyes of the law in the state of Georgia.
Horse Racing Betting in Georgia
Horse Racing Betting is unavailable for residents of, and visitors to the state of Georgia. While surrounding states legalized both horse and greyhound racing long ago, Georgia’s lawmakers stood-firm and continued their stanch-stance against horse racing.
In 2012, House Resolution Bill 1 was introduced to Georgia’s State Legislature to rally for the legalization of Horse Racing. Things even progressed as far as House Resolution Bill 4 to debate how the state’s fledgling racing industry would be run, but all attempts to pass the legislation stalled in the house.
Track Side: There are no Horse Racing tracks in the State of Georgia.
Off-Track Betting (OTB): There are no OTB facilities in the State of Georgia.
Online Betting on Horse Racing in Georgia: Residents of Georgia and visitors to the Peach State do not have access to Online Betting on Horse Racing. See above section on ‘Online Casino Laws in Georgia’ for further details.
Georgia’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are not covered by any Federal gambling bans, and as such (at the Federal level of government), DFS is not considered to be gambling; it is a game of skill, not a game determined by random chance.
In-the-past, Georgia has attempted to pass legislation that would have regulated and taxed DFS sites that operate in the state and accept players from the state of Georgia. The Bill HB 118 most recently made it through the State House of Georgia and made it as far as to the Senate, however, failed to get the required votes to pass into law before the legislature session adjourned. Ironically, if HB 118 had become law in Georgia, it would have implemented a variety of regulations designed for increased player security and keep customers safe from data mining.
For the time being, until a law passes to regulate DFS sites in Georgia, all the major DFS companies are accepting players from Georgia to participate in their real money DFS competitions and those players can legally keep any winnings that they might accumulate in DFS play.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) Explained
In a DFS league, you are allotted a virtual salary cap which is used to ‘buy’ players for your virtual team. Immediately, it is possible to see that this version of sports betting differs greatly from a traditional win/loss or points spread wager.
Each real-life sports star in the league is priced according to their market value based on career and season-to-date performances and statistics. For example, if you wish to draft the best second-baseman in the MLB into your Fantasy Team, you’ll need to spend a lot of your salary cap on that single star player. Perhaps there are more consistently performing bargain players who don’t command such a significant percentage of your salary cap?
Once you have ‘paid’ for your team and drafted your team, watch the games unfold and your virtual team’s points are calculated for you along the way. Your team’s real-life players amass stats (touchdowns, goals, assists, rebounds, strikeouts, yards gained, receptions, etc.) in the real games and accordingly, your fantasy league team accumulates virtual points online based on the actual performances. The team whose players accumulate the most points, wins the league whether it be daily, weekly, or perhaps even a regular season-long competition. Big money can be won and the most DFS competitions offer a $1 million or more winner’s purse for each competition (NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA and college football in states where amateur sports are considered legal for DFS competitions).
Poker Laws in Georgia
Live Poker can’t be enjoyed legally in Georgia for the purposes of gambling, however, Georgia residents and visitors can enter Poker Leagues with no player buy-ins. Many bars and licensed clubs in the Peach State offer free-entry poker games where prizes can be won without the requirement to pay an entry fee. The bars front the prize money themselves as they are essentially using the games as an attraction in order to attract more patrons to drink in the bars and clubs.
Online Poker Laws in Georgia
For online poker players, it is quite frustrating to see poker classified as “gambling” because it is so obviously a game of skill. Regardless however, until now, there have been no significant moves on regulation towards legalizing online poker in Georgia and online poker is a thing of fantasy for Georgia’s online players for the time being. For an in-depth explanation, please refer to the above section on ‘Online Casino Laws in Georgia’.
eSports Betting in Georgia
Once the matter of legal sports betting has been adopted by a reluctant Georgia State Legislature, at that time, eSports betting will then assist players in the Peach State to win in exciting new ways without having to jump onboard a cruise ship casino to do so. It can be seen then that legalized eSports betting in Georgia will add diverse betting opportunities for the state’s residents and visitors.
What are ‘eSports’?
eSports (video game play at its highest level, now turned professional) has given rise to competitive gaming betting and gambling.
eSports can trace its ancestral roots back to groups of friends hosting LAN parties and playing video games into the wee small hours of the night. However, today, it has become a full-fledged industry, an official network of professional gaming tournaments and leagues playing games like Dota 2, Overwatch and Fortnite.
The annual eSports market is currently valued at almost $1 billion per annum, and that number will only grow in the coming years. With every passing tournament, the prizes get richer and the viewership increases.
Of course, where there is money to be made, sports-bettors will surely follow.
Global Betting on eSports is growing rapidly each year, with an ever-increasing number of sportsbooks offering international betting markets across all the major eSports tournaments worldwide.
Rather than creating an underground economy, betting on eSports may well potentially assist in easing the sports betting legalization process in Georgia and help in adding to the state’s tax revenues to pay for improved citizen services and infrastructure projects.
Benefits of Legal Gambling to Georgia
- Georgia’s popular state lottery (available both through approved land-based outlets and online) provides millions annually to the state’s needs-based college scholarship program, the HOPE scholarship and Georgia’s pre-Kindergarten education program.
- It is estimated legal gambling in Georgia could lead to as many as 5000 new jobs in the Atlanta area alone.
- Legal gambling in Georgia could potentially keep in the state the estimated $670 million that residents of Georgia spend on gambling in neighboring states.
- Further money could be generated by the state’s tourism sector with legalized gambling.
History of Gambling in Georgia
1976 – Charitable Gaming first legalized in Georgia.
1992 – Georgia State lottery begins, and becomes the most popular gambling format in the State and is now offered online (one of few states to offer the online option).
2000-2002 – Short-lived legalization period of Video Poker.
2011: Crackdown on Georgia’s internet café illegal online casino industry.
2017: State Governor of Georgia Nathan Deal blocked an attempt by the state’s senators to legalize casino gambling with House Bill Number 158 and allow two casinos to be built in Georgia.
2017 – Georgia’s State Lottery sets a record of raising $4.55 billion in total state revenue.