Georgia gambling is a fairly new form of gaming. The state was one of the last to legalize any form of gambling outside of charities in 1992. This resulted in a Georgia Lottery and overnight it turned into one of the largest gambling businesses. The lottery was later expanded into online sales of tickets including instant games like scratch cards.
The only other forms of gambling allowed in the Peach State are bingo and raffles, and video lottery. Each was legalized in 1976 and 2013 respectively. However, strictly speaking, Georgians or visitors to the state won’t find traditional live casinos as these, and the games they host, are illegal in Georgia. Gambling laws in this state are relatively strict and also branch into the prohibition of horse and dog betting.
Those looking to visit the Peach State hoping to find great casinos will be remiss. When planning a trip to Georgia, much rather look forward to hiking the Appalachian trail, visit its beaches, or immerse yourself in the state’s role in the Civil Rights movement – it is Martin Luther King Jr.’s home state after all.
For Georgians looking to make money playing casino games, they’ll have to drive to North Carolina, Mississippi, or Florida. However, there is one option available but that involves catching a cruise liner into international waters. Also, offshore casino sites for US players may just meet all of your gambling needs.
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Georgia Gambling Laws
When it comes to gambling, state laws can vary greatly. Some states’ economies depend on it, others only allow them on tribal lands, while others have zero casinos. As mentioned earlier, Georgia gambling is fairly new and still quite strict. Let’s take a look at what exactly those laws stipulate.
How Georgia Defines Gambling
Before one can understand the specific laws, one has to first understand how they define what they’re legislating. Georgia’s laws define gambling as “betting upon the final result of a game or contest, or games played with cards, dice, or balls, in order to win money or other things of value.” They include betting on professional or local sports teams to holding small poker games at your home.
Which Types of Gambling are Legal?
According to Georgia gambling legislation, the only technically legal form of gambling in the state is the lottery. Therefore lottery-type games are allowed. These include:
- Mega Millions
- Fantasy 5
- Instant games that mimic slots
- Charity bingo that doesn’t have prize pools larger than US$1,500 per day or US$3,000 per week
- Poker tournaments offering prizes without a buy-in
- Video lottery: a slot that requires some level of skill that has an effect on the outcome of the game. Prizes may not be cash but things like store merchandise, gift cards, or lottery tickets.
Additionally, another form of gambling that’s allowed is daily fantasy sports (DFS).
Which Types of Gambling are Illegal?
Georgia gambling legislation expressly prohibits the following:
- Chain letters
- Commercial gambling
- Dog fighting
- Dog racing
- Election wagering
- Horse racing
- Maintaining gambling places or equipment
- Pyramid clubs
Furthermore, having a raffle or lottery that’s not for charity is considered illegal gambling. Bear in mind that just because it isn’t expressly listed doesn’t mean that it’s legal. Check with a local attorney to find out more.
The only state-sanctioned online gambling in Georgia are the lottery tickets that Georgians can buy online. There are also instant lottery-style games like online keno that are available online. Draws take place every three and a half minutes.
For those that like to bet on sports, online fantasy sports betting sites are currently allowed to operate in Georgia.
Casinos in Georgia
Due to Georgia’s strict restriction on gambling, traditional commercial land-based casinos aren’t allowed in the state. The only alternative Georgians have are video lottery games which can be found at convenience stores and bars throughout the state. These don’t reward cash prizes.
But, there’s a casino cruise liner – the Emerald Princess Casino – which is based in Brunswick, Georgia. The casino ship sails out three miles into international waters where gambling is allowed. Furthermore, the Emerald Princess also offers fine dining at its Bistro Deck, offering patrons a wonderful experience. Guest must be 21 years and older to be allowed on deck.
It’s a four-deck casino ship that has Vegas-style casino games. It features:
- 250 slots
- 12 blackjack tables
- A Stud poker table
- 1 Triple Time poker table
- 4 Texas Hold’Em tables
- 2 roulette wheels
- 1 craps table
|Emerald Princess II Casino Ship||250 slots, 12 blackjack tables, 6 poker table, 2 roulette wheels, 1 craps table||Bistro Deck||1 Emerald Princess Drive, Brunswick, GA|
Local number: 912.265.3558
Another option is to drive to North Carolina where the two closest casinos are on Cherokee reservations in the state. They are the Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Murphy casinos which are max. 155 miles away from Atlanta. Additionally, you can go to Mississippi or Florida to find land-based casinos.
History of Gambling
Georgia has had a conservative relationship with gambling throughout its history. It was only in 1976 that charities were able to get the state to allow them to offer raffles and bingo. But in 1992, the citizens of Georgia decided that it was time they had at least some form of gambling and voted to create a state lottery. In its first week, 52 million lottery tickets were sold and the sales goal of $463 million was reached in five months.
Georgia gambling through a state lottery was extremely successful. In that same year, they launched a weekly lotto game and keno game which has draws every three and a half minutes.
2013 saw Georgia’s legislature legalize video lottery slot machines in bars and gas stations. A 55 tax levy was put on all the games which increased by 1% each year until it reached it 10% cap. Online games were launched in 2014 in the state, expanding Georgia gambling. Georgians could buy lottery tickers and keno drawings online, and also play a slot-like game online.
Georgia Gambling FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about Georgia gambling.
No, there aren’t any traditional land-based casinos in Georgia. However, the state does have a casino cruise liner which can be chartered three miles into international waters where gambling is legal.
We would say the closest casino is in North Carolina and it’s about 122 miles away.
The minimum gambling are casino cruise liner – the Emerald Princess – has a minimum age limit of 21.
No, traditional slots aren’t legal in Georgia.
You can find video lottery machines in bars and gas stations across the state.
Yes, you can buy Georgia Lottery tickets online.
No, horse racing isn’t legal in the Peach State.
Poker games that require buy-in are illegal and other casino games are illegal in Georgia.
Other state gambling guides: