The state of Georgia is known as being conservative when it comes to any gambling, so much so, that the state lottery did not exist until 1992 (keep in mind that this is several decades after other U.S. states had created their own state lotteries.) The precedent set by the state government has been to approach gambling expansion slowly, cautiously, and warily, regardless of the well-liked lotto and other forms of gambling like playing online poker.
Gambling Defined by Georgia
The state of Georgia currently only allows charitable gambling and state lotteries. The definition of gambling in Georgia is pretty general and it includes betting on any type of game or event. It looks like poker is part of this definition, as “gambling” is defined as betting anything of value (cash, property, etc.) on games involving “cards, dice, or balls.”
Georgia state law treats engaging in illegal gambling as a misdemeanor. State law also strictly bans the transmitting of information that is associated to betting. While Georgia laws are murky (yet very conservative), anti-gambling law mainly concerns itself with doling out penalties for operating unregulated gambling businesses rather than pursuing players. Players are generally not the ones making huge profits off such schemes, but illicit gambling entrepreneurs are, in fact.
Georgia’s legal gambling includes bingo, the lottery, and raffles. Arguably, none of these forms are too “offensive” for the conservative-oriented state in comparison to card games, for instance. Bingo is especially popular, and its popularity has led to the creation of bingo halls. Bingo halls can almost be thought to rival tribal-based casinos in other states. It is that big of an activity. Considering that even the minimal amount of legal gambling nets the state millions of dollars each year, it is interesting to see that the government still fights increased opportunities for letting its residents be happier – especially during election times – and to take in more revenue for public works.
Currently, Georgia only allows $1,500 for each “session” or up to $3,000 max per week for all prizes. The prizes amounts are directly correlated to the amount the bingo players are betting, so this limits the operator profits. This disincentives bingo game hosting to begin with, therefore simultaneously allowing and restricting gambling vis-à-vis bingo in the state of Georgia. Still, nevertheless, for some organizations, bingo is their lifeblood, their bread and butter. Far beyond being a fundraising activity, it is often the sole purpose of organizations’ existence. While bingo is a popular legal type of gambling within these organizations, there have been some illegal slot machines, pull-tabs, and even lotteries to help increase the revenue. Since 1981, around 50 organizations have had their bingo licenses suspended or revoked for again and again violating the rules an engaging in illegal gambling activities. These organizations have been charged with commercial gambling crimes.
Online Gambling in Georgia
While conservative with respect to real-life gambling, Georgia does not have any sort of regulated online gambling. This is not because state representatives condone online gambling, which would make little or no sense given the disdain they have for it in the real world, but because the laws simply have not caught up with the rapidly changing technology. I would say that Georgia is at the bottom of the list for states that regulate online gambling. The efforts to expand gambling have been met with opposition from the public and the politicians, so online gambling doesn’t stand a chance since many view of it as more of a Wild Wild West form of gambling in which arguably more immorality can occur – or at least that is what is claimed. Despite the negative perception of gambling and its strict limitations in the state of Georgia, a narrow majority of the state’s Republican voters voiced support in August 2012 for what was once inconceivable – casino gambling. Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed that he would not support casinos in Georgia, and noted that it would take a much bigger margin to clear the way for Las Vegas-style casinos to be allowed and flourish without serious debate and push-back. Despite these insurmountable odds, this vote was the latest in a string of recent events that have sustained the hopes of gambling supporters and galvanized the contempt of anti-gambling advocates.