Gambling in Georgia
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 especially sports 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, cruise casinos operate out of the Peach State, DFS is offered and ‘no buy-in’ poker leagues are all part of the betting landscape.
Georgia Casino Gambling
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.
However, 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 Casinos 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.
Which Online Casinos Are legal in Georgia and Which are Not?
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 afoul 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.
Poker 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.
Home games are not legally carved out under Georgian law. These type of social poker games fall under the Peach State’s blanket ban on any form of gambling for real money.
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
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 Casinos in Georgia’.
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 Online & Land-Based 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.
Visit our Georgia Online Sports Betting Page for more information on sports betting laws and sportsbook reviews