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Georgia Gambling & Poker Laws

Georgia Poker Laws
Georgia Gambling & Poker Laws
Last Updated November 18, 2019

If you’re in Georgia and interested in learning more about how to play online poker from the state, you’ve found what you’re looking for.  This comprehensive guide to Georgia and online poker will walk you through the basics of playing at poker sites in GA, provide some context and background regarding the state’s general approach to gambling and survey what’s ahead for online poker players from Georgia.

If you had to pick one word to describe gambling laws in GA, I would suggest something like “strict.”

Without a law on the books that specifically deals with poker games played online, fully understanding Georgia law as it applies to online poker requires the skills of a trained legal professional.

However, if you’re only looking for a quick summary of the important parts of Georgia poker law that could pertain to online games, we can help you there.

Recent Gambling Happenings in Georgia

Despite Georgia generally opposing almost every form of gambling within its borders, lawmakers dipped their toes into the sports betting waters in 2019.

A general sports betting bill was introduced into the Georgia House, one that would allow a maximum of 10 sports betting permits (licenses). Any revenue from the industry would be funneled into the same educational fund as does revenue from the Georgia Lottery.

The bill requires legislative and voter approval. There is a chance to get the issue on the 2020 ballot for voters, but the bills hadn’t passed through either legislative chamber by mid-November 2019.

Here’s a complete breakdown of what’s allowed when it comes to gambling in Georgia:

What Forms of Gambling Are Legal in Georgia?

Type/CodeSummary
State Code Section(s)16.12.2
Definition of GamblingGambling: A person commits the offense of gambling when he makes a bet upon the partial or final result of any game or contest or upon the performance of any participant in such game or contest; 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 plays and bets for money or other thing of value at any game played with cards, dice, or balls.
Definition of BetBet: An agreement that, dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value.
Online Poker/GamblingWith no legal casinos in the state, there has been no interest in attempting to legalize online poker or casino games.
Live PokerThere are no live poker rooms in Georgia due to the ban on casinos.
CasinosThe state of Georgia passed a law to ban casinos before the federal IGRA law gave Indian tribes the right to offer casino games on their reservations, so no gaming compacts were ever written.
Sports BettingNo sports betting proposals have been introduced to Georgia lawmakers.
DFSA House bill to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports was introduced in 2018 but did not pass.
Other Forms of GamblingLottery, bingo, charity raffles.

 

Is Online Poker Legal in Georgia?

While some poker sites have elected to leave the US market, there are still literally dozens and dozens of sites that will let you play real money poker from Georgia (or nearly any other US state).

Playing poker for money in Georgia is as easy as ordering a DVD from Amazon.  Select a room from our list of the top Georgia poker sites. Within minutes you’ll have an account you can use to play poker for real money from the comfort of your computer.

To summarize;

  1. Georgia has a very broad definition of gambling that draws from several distinct parts of the statute.  The definition of “bet” and “gambling device” (Section 16-12-20), along with the charge of “gambling” (16-12-21) combine to create a definition of gambling that includes betting on just about any game or event you can imagine.
  2. Poker appears to be included in the definition, as the offense of “gambling” includes betting anything of value on games played with “cards, dice or balls.”
  3. It is a misdemeanor to engage in unregulated gambling in Georgia (16-12-21).
  4. Georgia law also prohibits transmitting information related to bets (16-12-28).  Due to lack of relevant case law, it is unclear whether this aspect of Georgia law could apply to playing poker, which does potentially involve information related to bets (as defined under Georgia law)

Georgia anti-gambling law has a lot more to say about the penalties for operating an unregulated gambling business, but the above points are probably the most relevant to a typical poker player trying to get a handle on the basics of online poker and Georgia law.

Will Georgia Regulate Online Poker?

Of all the states in the union, Georgia is probably one of the least likely to regulate online poker (or any form of online gambling).  Gambling expansion efforts have proven politically and publicly unpopular, and online gambling would probably face even stiffer resistance than a land-based casino.

The one avenue for regulated online poker in Georgia is if a majority of states adopt online poker under a federal regulatory regime.

In that scenario, online poker would become something similar to the lottery – generally tolerated by the public and viewed as a financial boon by the states.

However, even this scenario is unlikely, especially given the high legislative bar for gambling expansion in Georgia’s constitution.

Georgia Gambling Facts

The state of Georgia has historically taken a conservative approach to gambling.  To give you some idea of how the state approaches regulated gambling, consider the fact that the Georgia state lottery wasn’t even created until 1992 – several decades after other US states had adopted the format.

Despite the popularity of the lotto and other forms of gambling – like online poker -in Georgia, the precedent set by state government has been to approach gambling expansion slowly, cautiously and warily.

Regulated Gambling Options in Georgia

That attitude on the part of both governments and residents has resulted in a pretty meager line up of regulated gambling outlets for those inside Georgia’s borders.

Limited charitable gambling and the state lottery are the sole entrants on Georgia’s list of choices for regulated gambling.

Does Georgia Offer any Online Gambling?

No – the state of Georgia does not regulate online gambling of any type.  That means there aren’t any online poker sites or online casinos that can claim to be regulated by Georgia – instead, their license will have been issued by some other government.

Georgia & The Game of Poker

Georgia & The Game of Poker (change to “Famous Georgia Poker Players” and replace all text with the following)

With no casinos – no live poker rooms – in Georgia, people have traditionally become poker players through home games and online poker. The latter was much more prevalent before Black Friday.

Josh Arieh is one of those players who started his poker career long before Black Friday, even before online poker. He was a live player who traveled to nearby states to play cash games and tournaments, then played online poker when at home in Georgia. His poker career includes two WSOP gold bracelets (his first in 1999) and more than $8.1 million in live tournament earnings as of October 2019. He has long been the number one live tournament player from Georgia.

Ankush Mandavia is a relatively new player in poker but learned a lot of his skills playing online poker, as have many others on the Georgia poker list, like Jason DeWitt and Kory Kilpatrick.

The top-ranked players from Georgia, as of October 2019, are as follows:

1. Josh Arieh ($8.1 million)
2. Ankush Mandavia ($4.9 million)
3. David Bach ($4.2 million)
4. Jason DeWitt ($3.2 million)
5. Daniel Weinman ($3 million)
6. William Baxter ($2.7 million)
7. Jeff Williams ($2.2 million)
8. John Roveto ($1.6 million)
9. Kory Kilpatrick ($1.2 million)
10. Stephen Nussrallah ($1.2 million)

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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