If you are looking to gamble locally, then Georgia is probably not the best US State to go to. Yes, you can find gaming here, but it’s extremely limited. Your best bet is to play online instead, at any of the offshore casinos listed below
However if you are close to the border I recommend crossing over to Florida where there are much more options since gambling here is:
- Limited to cruises, which require to take you out to international waters;
- Limited to collecting slot machines and not actually playing them for real money;
- Limited to charities that can offer bingo raffles for the purposes of raising money and;
- Limited state lotteries and state video poker machines.
So if I haven’t over mentioned it, it’s “limited” gaming in Georgia. But, if you’re a casual gamer and you don’t get sea sick, then give the cruises a go. You won’t get the glamour of Las Vegas, but you will have an enjoying and relaxing day or night out, and who knows may even come out as a winner.
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Georgia Online Gambling
The legality of online gambling in Georgia remains unclear. With outdated laws that are complex and ambiguous, there should be an attempt to untangle the web gambling statutes that are conflicting. Georgia laws, however, are very clear in declaration that if a person is found to be playing online they are breaking the law. The state will enforce gambling laws if applicable and will pursue litigation.
Normally, you will find that it is the online casino operators or sports book that will face penalties and fines and NOT the player. That is not to say that there is no risk of a Player being charged, but the risk is very very low.
Georgia ranks as the 13th in the US for playing at offshore online casinos. Wagering an estimated $20.4 million per year, it ranks just above North Carolina and behind Arizona. The state with the largest wagering for offshore online casino is California at $180 million.
Jan 2020 – Change is in the air with the Atlanta Motor Speedway announcing it intends to ask for permission to establish an integrated casino resort. A hearing was held by the Georgia Special Committee on Economic Growth discussing amending the States constitution to allow for casino gaming, sports betting and horse racing.
Georgia Casino Cruises
If you want to play casino games in Georgia then you will need to hop on a cruise that will take you out to international waters to gamble. Once in international waters the jurisdiction of Georgia laws no longer applies and the restrictions of gaming are lifted. Internationals waters by law stipulate that the cruise needs to have traveled over 12 miles from shore until it can be declared to be under international jurisdiction.
Now this may sound great, but there are a few points that I would like to make for you to consider:
Firstly, the law that a cruise ship must abide by whether it is in Georgia waters or international waters is self regulated by the cruise owner. Self regulation in any industry will always be a conflict of interest between profits and abiding by the law. So often you will find that the captain of the ship will declare that international waters has been reached well before travelling the required 12 miles. Self regulated industries tend to lead to loose enforcement of laws.
Secondly, with self regulation there is no transparency for payout ratios for slot machines and other gaming machines. For table games, this shouldn’t be an issue, because cards are cards (assuming they haven’t rigged the deck of cards). But for gaming such as slots, there are certain payout ratios that need to be met. Under international law and self regulation, there is a lack of transparency of required pay out ratios being adhered to.
My recommendation, when going on a cruise to play, is to avoid the machines and stick to the table games. At least, you can be assured that the odds are not intentionally stacked against you to ensure you lose.
Lastly, any Tom, Dick and Harry can operate a cruise. When you combine this with self regulation this could be a recipe for disaster. So please be wary of attending a lesser unknown cruise than the big players in the industry. If you choose a small cruise operator, you may not receive the level of quality and service that you may be expecting and you will have no way of claiming any compensation, should there be a need to.
I recommend sticking to either the Emerald Princess Casino Cruise or the Tradewinds Casino Cruise (update: this has since closed). These two are the big players of cruises in Georgia.
Emerald Princess Casino Cruise
Named the Emerald Princess the boat sets sail from Brunswick, Georgia. It has several slot machines, casino tables offering all the popular games, poker and one restaurant. To be honest, there is a mixed bag of reviews regarding the Emerald Princess. I would set expectations low if you intend to join this cruise.
Play the tables and enjoy the closest thing to Vegas Georgia has to offer.
The governing body in Georgia for the State Lottery is call The Georgia Lottery Corporation. This entity is responsible for operating the lottery, scratch tickets, and ensuring pursuing those who break the gambling laws in the state. The lottery generates over $1 billion of proceeds annually of which half is awards as winnings, a quarter to state education and a quarter for administration purposes.
There has been much discussion by politicians regarding the current restrictive gambling laws. Many are lobbying for a loosening of state constitutional law, through allowing horse racing and casino gambling. The difficulty in passing this change needs to overcome the huge hurdle of Georgians voting for a constitutional amendment. Saying that this is NOT easy, would be an understatement.
Many supporters of change also argue that there are economic benefits forth coming by developing the gambling industry. It would encourage jobs growth. In addition, many argue that gambling is already occurring in the state, legal or otherwise.
In summary, a lot of discussion, but will there be change? It remains to be seen, highly unlikely.
A Lawyer’s Opinion
This southern state is one of the more conservative when it comes to allowing gambling, with most residents traveling across state lines to get their fix. The state bans nearly all forms of gambling as well as real-money games, casinos, and racetracks. Georgia currently only allows participation in the state-run lottery and charitable raffles and on casino cruises. See O.C.G.A. § 16-12-20 et seq.
Sports Betting: Sports betting is generally illegal in Georgia though fantasy sports betting is arguably unregulated as falling outside of the prohibition against wagers on sporting events. FanDuel, DraftKings, and others accept Georgia residents for fantasy bets and, so far, have faced no issues doing so. Individuals who wish to make general sportsbooks may do so only through risky unlicensed offshore platforms.
Race Betting: As somewhat of a surprise given the state’s traditional roots, horse betting is illegal in Georgia, including pari-mutuel and off-track betting. The country’s major race betting sites do not accept Georgia residents though a bill was introduced (and subsequently failed) to change this by authorizing horse racing and pari-mutuel betting. As a result, betters who wish to make online racebooks may do so only through risky unlicensed offshore platforms.
Online Gambling: Players who wish to participate in online poker and similar games of skill involving traditional casino-type games may do so only through risky unlicensed offshore platforms as the state has classed such games of skill as forms of gambling.
Online Gaming: Skill games are permitted, and the U.S.-based WorldWinner accepts bets on games of skill (such as Scrabble and Bejeweled) from Georgia residents.