Georgia Poker / Gambling Laws

Georgia Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Georgia?

The state of Georgia may have the strictest regulations against gambling in general and poker specifically of any state in the US. As of this writing, there is no way play a legal card game in Georgia state lines.
A reading of the Georgia Penal Code makes this very clear. State bill 16-12-21 says “A person commits the offense of gambling when he plays and bets for money or other thing of value at any game played with cards…” A little bit of good news for poker players in Georgia: breaking this law results in a misdemeanor charge, though what sort of misdemeanor is unclear, as are the penalties for the crime.

Legality of Home Poker Games in Georgia

According to the state of Georgia, all forms of poker played for profit are illegal, and unlike in other states, the penal code makes no exceptions for a home game whatsoever. Many states in the USA allow for private card games, provided the game’s host doesn’t add additional charges or rake any of the game’s pots. Not so in Georgia, which you can read in the state’s law books.

Read section 16-12-20 of the Penal Code, and you’ll see that the state defines a gambling place as “ . . . any real estate used for the purposes of gambling.” There is no way around that language: any place where poker is played for money is a “gambling place” according to the state’s lawmakers. That means a private game among friends is completely illegal.

Can You Play Online Poker Legally in Georgia?

Most states in the USA have not yet taken on the issue of online gambling, and the same is true in The Peach State. Though Georgia has not officially made a law explicitly outlawing online gaming, the state’s existing gaming laws spell out that all forms of gaming for money are not allowed. Georgia is among the top three least poker-friendly states in America, and those familiar with laws in the state expect that Georgia may be one of a handful of states that will make online gambling illegal in the coming years.

Learn About Other State Laws

Poker & Georgia Casinos

You don’t have to worry about playing poker in casinos in Georgia because the state doesn’t have a single legal casino in operation. Because state law says that all gaming is illegal, casinos can’t provide things like slot machines, table games, or card rooms, and the state has yet to make a single exception for any gaming operators. Gamblers in Georgia generally travel to do their gaming, either to the Carolinas or to Mississippi or any other jurisdiction where gambling is legal.

You might wonder if Georgia allows any sort of wagering at all, and the answer is yes. Georgia offers a state-operated lottery, and in the city of Atlanta, you can find so called digital lottery machines which look and act more like traditional slot machines. These were allowed as part of an attempt to raise revenues in a city hit hard by the economic downturn, giving poker players and other gamblers a glimmer of hope for gaming in the future.

To learn more about poker and gambling law in Georgia,