Delving into the legal landscape of gambling in Georgia reveals a state with some of the strictest regulations in the U.S. While certain forms of gambling, such as lottery games, bingo, and charitable raffles, are permitted, others like horse and dog racing or the establishment of Georgia casinos remain firmly prohibited. The state’s laws explicitly declare any bets on game outcomes, contests, political events, or elections as illegal, as well as wagers on card, dice, or ball games for money or valuables.

However, a notable shift in the tide has been witnessed recently, with a growing movement advocating for the legalization of gambling in Georgia, particularly focusing on sports betting. This momentum began in late 2023 and has persisted into early 2024. Senate Bill 386, aimed at legalizing sports betting, successfully passed through the State Senate with a 35-15 vote on February 1, 2024. Nevertheless, the bill faces additional hurdles, as it must now secure approval in the House and necessitate an amendment to the Georgia Constitution. Even if it triumphs over these challenges, the ultimate decision lies with Georgia voters, who will cast their votes during the November election to determine the fate of the proposed law.

The bill’s journey through the House is uncertain, given the historical context of previous attempts. No sports betting bill in Georgia has successfully navigated the House, with the most recent one faltering in the Senate in 2023. Moving forward, the bill hinges on garnering the support of at least two-thirds of the House, a critical requirement due to its constitutional amendment component. The unfolding saga in Georgia adds an intriguing chapter to the ongoing debate surrounding gambling legislation.

For Georgia residents and visitors interested in traditional gambling at a land-based casino, they will have to travel to a nearby state, such as North Carolina, Alabama, Florida casinos, Mississippi, or Louisiana, that has legalized casinos.

Additionally, online real-money gambling faces restrictions within Georgia’s borders. The state enforces measures that utilize device location technology to ascertain your physical presence when engaging in gambling activities online. To align with Georgia’s stringent gambling laws, online casinos and gaming apps implement blocks on specific real-money transactions for users accessing their platforms from within the state. This regulatory framework reflects the ongoing efforts to uphold and enforce the existing legal constraints on gambling activities, both traditional and online, within the confines of Georgia.



According to the current Official Code of Georgia Annotated: O.C.G.A. §16-12-21, a gambling crime has been committed when persons…

Make 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;

Make 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

Play and bet for money or other things of value at any game played with cards, dice, or balls.

O.C.G.A. §16-12-20 defines “bet” as an agreement that, dependent upon chance, even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose something of value. Although gambling commonly involves wagering money, it can also take place whenever a bet involves something valuable, referred to as consideration.

The crime of gambling consists of elements of consideration, chance, and prize.

Monte Carlo Parties, Ltd. v. Webb, 254 Ga. 508, (1984).

Notably, the presence of intent is irrelevant. Whether the accused had the intention to violate state law is immaterial.

U.S. v. Hawes, 529 F2. 472, (1976).

Final Thoughts

Georgia’s gambling landscape is marked by stringent regulations, with prohibitions on various forms of betting, including horse and dog racing and the establishment of casinos. Recent momentum for change is evident in Senate Bill 386, aiming to legalize sports betting, which successfully passed through the State Senate. However, the bill faces uncertainties in the House and relies on approval from Georgia voters in the November election. The historical context of previous unsuccessful attempts adds suspense to the unfolding narrative, while traditional and online gambling within Georgia remain constrained by existing legal constraints.

For those seeking traditional gambling experiences, the absence of land-based casinos in Georgia prompts residents and visitors to travel to neighboring states with legalized gambling establishments. Additionally, online real money gambling faces restrictions, enforced through measures such as device location technology, reflecting the state’s commitment to upholding and enforcing its strict gambling laws. The definition of gambling crimes outlined in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated provides clarity on illegal activities, emphasizing elements of consideration, chance, and prize, regardless of intent. As Georgia navigates the evolving debate on gambling regulations, the fate of Senate Bill 386 and the potential legalization of sports betting will shape the future of gambling in the state, leaving room for continued speculation and scrutiny.