Is it Legal to Gamble in Georgia?

When considering that the state of Georgia is in the Bible Belt, you won’t be too surprised to learn they have strict laws on gambling. Unfortunately, Georgia has taken the animosity to an entirely new level with its staunchest requirements. Namely, according to the state law, no forms of gambling as we know it (casino gaming, sports betting, horse and greyhound racing, and so on) are allowed within state borders. The only types of gambling and gaming legal and available in Georgia are the state lottery and charitable bingo and raffles.

However, all is not lost. There are still ways and gambling options that Georgians and their visitors can enjoy, even if it means hoisting the sails for a bit. Stay tuned and learn more about Georgia’s gambling laws and regulations, and where you can gamble when in Georgia.

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Online Gambling in Georgia?

Online gambling also falls into the category of illegal forms of gambling. However, it is not explicitly mentioned in that wording; however, if we consider the 16-12-20 State Code, no device can be used for gambling purposes, including computers and such. However, playing in offshore online casinos remains a grey area. No one has ever been persecuted for playing in an offshore casino, and the arm of the law does not extend that far, so you can freely opt for offshore online casinos and play your favorite games there.

Gambling Laws in Georgia β€” The Law Overview

Under the Georgia Criminal Code, all forms of gambling except the state lottery and charitable bingo and raffles are entirely prohibited, and a person will commit the offense of gambling if that person:

1) Makes a bet upon the partial or final result of any game or contest or upon the performance of any participant in such a game or contest;

(2) Makes a bet upon the result of any political nomination, appointment, or election or upon the degree of success of any nominee, appointee, or candidate; or

(3) Plays and bets for money or other thing of value at any game played with cards, dice, or balls.

(4) A person who commits the offense of gambling shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Under the current state law, specifically the section 16-12-22, if a person engages in commercial gambling or tries to host games to gain profit, forwards or takes bet, advertises gambling, sells chances and lottery tickets, that person will be punished by imprisonment for five years and a $20,000 fine, which is one of the strictest punishments for engaging in gambling in all of USA.

Although the regulations are airtight, there is still some leniency with some state-funded gambling in the form of lottery, bingo, and raffles.

The State Lottery is Kicking on All Cylinders

A sort of a paradoxical situation happened with the Georgia State Lottery, as it was one of the first state lotteries in the USA to be fully regulated and licensed in a state which frowns on all forms of gambling. This happened in 1992, when The Lottery for Education Act created the Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) to oversee and operate the lottery in Georgia. The main reason for its establishment was to fund HOPE scholarships and educational programs, as well as support various charitable organizations.

The State Lottery has become quite a lucrative business, with over $80 billion in net sales over the past 27 years. Apart from the state lottery, you can also buy Mega Millions and Powerball interstate lotteries that have massive jackpots.

A possibly significant policy shift happened in April of 2013 when the Georgia Lottery Corporation (GLC) assumed the right and duties to regulate Class A and Class B Coin Operated Amusement Machines (COAMs) in Georgia. While the Class A machines are kiddie rides, skeeball, claw machines, pinball games, typical arcade games, pool tables, and such, the Class B machines are quite similar to slot machines and are called video lottery.

The video lottery machines are like slots but require a certain level of skills, for example moving a reel or choosing which one is the best for a winning combo and maximum payout. The winning combos bring a winning ticket that can be exchanged for Georgia Lottery tickets or extra turns at the machine.

Bingo and Raffles Are the First Legalized Forms of Gambling in Georgia

Bingo and raffles were first legalized in Georgia back in 1976 to help charitable organizations fund their programs and projects. Numerous organizations in Georgia now offer bingo in many bingo and raffles halls spread across the country, but these too have to follow strict Bingo guidelines and rules. Namely, only $1,500 in prize money can be paid out in a single session and no more than $3,000 in a week. Since 1981, over 50 organizations have lost their licenses because of unlawful gambling. The same goes for raffles, as these charitable organizations have to follow specific rules in order to conduct raffles.

Will a New Dawn Break for Gambling in Georgia?

The Georgia General Assembly reconvenes on January 13, for the first time in 2020, and their agenda is filled with issues such as the budget, teacher pay raises healthcare, and gambling. Some of the lawmakers are insisting on the institution of gambling and horse racing as a way of collecting extra revenue for the state. This move would require a Constitution Amendment, but the lobbyists are confident that they will persuade lawmakers to support gambling expansion and thus create hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars for HOPE scholarships, education, and other vital aspects of social life.

Where to Gamble in Georgia?

Despite all those heavy restrictions on gambling in Georgia, there are ways in which you can access real casinos. The way to do is to hop aboard the Emerald Princess casino cruise that docks at Brunswick, Georgia. The catch lies in the fact that the cruise sales some 3 miles off the coast of Georgia, which means they are officially sailing in international waters where casinos are fully allowed.

Emerald Princess Casino Cruise

Emerald Princess Casino is a 200-foot vessel with four decks out of which two are reserved for gambling, while the third one is for dining purposes, and the fourth functions as an observation deck. Aboard Emerald Princess Casino cruise, you will find 250 slot machines, 12 blackjack tables, six live poker tables, two roulette tables, and a craps table. You will find the ship moored on 1 Emerald Princess Drive Brunswick, GA, 31520, and ready to take you on your casino adventure five times per week. There is a $10 entry fee, and all guests must be over 21 years and present government-issued photo ID to cruise on the ship.


Are casinos legal in Georgia?

Unfortunately, land-based casinos are not legal in Georgia at the moment.

Is online gambling allowed in Georgia?

Online gambling is not allowed in Georgia; however, accessing gambling sites does not incur any penalties.

Is online poker legal?

Online poker games are not legal at the moment, but home poker games are allowed if now buy-in exists.

Can you gamble anywhere in Georgia?

Yes, you can. You can go aboard Emerald Princess Casino cruise and gamble all you like in during their five-hour journey off the coast of Georgia.

How old do you have to be to enter the Emerald Princess Casino cruise?

You have to be at least 21 to enter the Emerald Princess Casino cruise, and you have to show a government-issued ID card.