Georgia State Lottery
Legalized in 1992, the Georgia state lottery is one of only three possible forms of gambling allowed in the state. Tickets are available to purchase via the Georgia lottery website, making it the only form of online gambling legal in the state. Run by and for the state, it has so far brought around $9 billion in revenue that has contributed to various education initiatives through the HOPE program. The sale of online lottery tickets is geo-locked to customers in the state and has mobile apps that are available both for iPhone and Android devices.
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- State of Georgia Bureau of Investigation
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Savannah Tribune
- Georgia State seal
Gambling Laws in Georgia
There are only three legalized forms of gambling in Georgia, making it one of the most restrictive states after Hawaii and Utah. The first thing to be allowed was bingo, which was legalized for non-profit organizations in 1978 and has remained popular to this day. You can also play charitable raffles, as long as the proceeds go to a non-profit, charitable organization. Apart from the legalization of the lottery in 1992, not much else has changed in the state in terms of gambling laws, much to the dismay of some policy makers. While things may change in 2019, the current laws are very clear cut.
The law states that a ‘bet’ is an agreement to stake ‘something of value’ wherein the outcome is dependent on chance, even if there is also some skill involved. This inclusion of ‘skill’ is what defines wagers on card games like poker or blackjack, as well as daily fantasy sports, to be illegal. It also is broad enough to cover that a wager is the option to lose, regardless of whether to a ‘house’ or to a collective, like is the case with pari-mutuel wagering.
Georgia Sports Betting
As pari-mutuel gambling is included in the sweeping illegality of gambling in Georgia, the state has no options for sports betting. This doesn’t just mean online, it is also effective for all kinds of sports betting in the state, so you won’t find any of the horse or greyhound tracks that are prolific across many other states. The Georgia Horse Racing Coalition was founded in 2012 with a vision to make the sport legal in the state, though to date there has not been any movement in the laws.
Georgia Daily Fantasy
Though it is sometimes possible to access websites offering daily fantasy sports for monetary prizes from Georgia, players should be warned that this is seen as illegal under the Georgia state law. As the law effectively bans all games where both chance and skill are involved, daily fantasy sports fall neatly in that bracket and players should participate at their own risk. Many bills attempting to legalize it have been raised and subsequently rejected.
Georgia Casino Gambling
All forms of casino gambling are deemed illegal in Georgia, and therefore there are no casinos in the state. This has long been a point of contention between the Senate and Governors, each of which are staunchly pushing on either side of the debate. Most recently, a bill was tabled in 2012 to allow a state-run casino to form, however it has since stalled as successive Governors continue to delay its acceptance. According to previous Governor Nathan Deal, this delay was to ensure the state would appropriately benefit from the introduction of a casino in the form of a 25-30% tax on casino revenue.
Poker in Georgia
In line with the state’s strict crackdown on forms of gambling, playing poker is considered illegal in Georgia. There is some flexibility here though, with some bars and locations offering the game to be played with no buy-in, which slips through the law as there is technically nothing ‘of value’ being wagered. In 2000, the state was inundated with video poker machines that found another loophole in the law – paying out winnings in ‘tickets’ rather than cash. However, this was short lived with a new law introduced in 2002 that completely banned the machines.
Bingo in Georgia
Unlike states with more flexible gambling laws, bingo is incredibly popular in Georgia. It is one of only three legal forms of wagering in the state and was in fact the first to be legalized in 1976. There were some caveats introduced with the law, though, in the form of prize restrictions. For example, the prizes offered per day could not exceed $1,500, nor exceed $3,000 per week. The popularity of the game has led to many locations offering themed bingo, however the regulator, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Bingo Unit is fast to crack down on any operations violating the rules.
History of Gambling in Georgia
There has not been a lot of noteworthy change to the gambling laws in Georgia in recent years, unless you consider the numerous failed attempts to turn bills into laws of interest. In any case, the state has been strict on its no-gambling stance since the 1800s, with the only new laws to be put into effect being those that restrict it further.
|1976||Bingo is legalized for non-profit organizations with prize restrictions.|
|1992||A law from 1878 is overturned to allow the state to run its own lottery. The revenue funds education initiatives.|
|2000||Due to a loophole, Georgia sees an influx of video poker machines.|
|2002||A law is passed banning all video poker machines in the state.|
|2012||The Senate votes to establish a casino in Georgia, which then-Governor Nathan Deal refused to sign into law.|
|2017||Senator Brandon Beach proposes another new bill to legalize forms of gambling in Georgia which is still pending.|
|2019||New plans begin to propose another bill for the 2019 General Assembly. It will need to be approved by Governor Brian Kemp.|
Georgia State Facts
Also known as the Peach State, Georgia’s main claim to fame is being the place that Coca Cola was invented in 1886. It was around the same time that the state began its hard stance on gambling, a pastime that was introduced to its population from Louisiana. The strict rules aren’t just for gambling though, with the state also having hard rules surrounding alcohol and marijuana usage.
|Biggest Offline Gambling Location||Pals Bingo|
|Gambling Commissioner||Georgia Bureau of Investigation: Bingo Unit|
|Spoken Languages||English 90%, Spanish 7.42%, Other 2.82%|
|Biggest Local Sports Team||Atlanta Falcons|
|Georgia Tax Authority||Georgia Department of Revenue|
|Official State Law||Official Page|
|Gambling Winning Tax||6%|
|State Website Link||https://georgia.gov/|
|Famous Local Gamblers||Christopher Bryan Moneymaker|
Gambling Age in Georgia
The legal age of participating in the state’s lottery is 18. Though tickets are allowed to be purchased online without any form of age verification, lying about one’s age to buy lottery tickets online faces penalties including fines and 1-5 years of jail time. The same age also applies to residents wishing to play bingo in the state. People under 18 may participate in raffles or bingo as long as the prize is less than $5 in value.
Online Gambling Age:
Responsible Gambling and Addiction Prevention
In order to help its population to avoid and treat gambling problems, the state relies on the National Council of Problem Gambling. This offers support via phone call, text as well as online chat. The state chapter – Georgia Gambling Help – offers workshops and resources to help Georgians who are battling with addiction. It has declared March to be ‘Problem Gambling Awareness Month’ in which is aims to raise awareness of the illness.
Upcoming Regulation and Expected Changes
At the time of writing, there is expected to be a new plan to create another new bill to legalize gambling in Georgia that will be put forward to the General Assembly. Though legalizing casinos and gambling is something that Republican Senate Representative, Ron Stephens, is pushing for, it has long been delayed from Governor Nathan Deal. Though Deal was recently replaced by Governor Brian Kemp, Kemp shares the former leader’s opinion. If a deal can be struck that will allow the state to take 25-30% of the revenue from state-based casinos and sports betting, it is likely that the bill will be passed.