Georgia

Sports betting in Georgia

Georgia ranks among the least gambling friendly states in the country. In fact, with the exceptions of Utah and Hawaii it might be the worst state in the country for gambling in terms of restrictive regulation and the excessive punishment it hands out for violating them.

Georgia was one of the first states in the region to ban the sale of lottery tickets—a very popular activity in the postwar South. Georgia made the sale of lottery tickets illegal in 1878 and this law remained in force for over a century. In perhaps the only ‘good news’ from a gambling standpoint, Georgia now has a state lottery launched in 1993 with the usual assortment of draw games including the big national pools (MegaMillions and PowerBall). It also offers a Keno game with drawings every 3 ½ minutes and scratch-off games. To their credit, the Georgia Lottery offers MegaMillions and Powerball tickets for sale online. Keno and several other games are also available online.

There’s not much else in Georgia that isn’t a bleak reality for gambling enthusiasts. One theory about the growth of sports betting across the United States is that once an individual state begins to offer it their neighboring states will be more inclined to do the same. The thinking is that even in states with a history of gambling opposition they’d rather keep the revenue instead of watching it drive over the border every weekend during football season. The experience of Georgia serves as a refutation to the universality of this concept. Many of Georgia’s neighbors offer parimutuel wagering, for example, including Florida, Arkansas and Alabama. Georgia didn’t follow suit despite the millions of dollars in lost revenue. The only thing approximating ‘liberalization’ of the state’s gambling laws came in 1976 via a tightly regulated accommodation for charity bingo and raffles.

Georgia residents still have at least one casino cruise operating out of the Savannah area which allows gambling in international waters. In the early 2000’s, there were video poker machines in many bars and truck stops that took advantage of a ‘loophole’ in the law to offer payouts. The state put the kibosh on this in 2002. A more recent target of the state has been Internet cafes that serve as quasi-gambling operations for local communities.  In 2012, the state legislature narrowly passed a bill authorizing a casino with the proceeds serving to fund the state’s community college program. Governor Nathan Deal did not sign it into law, however, suggesting he wanted to see a bigger coalition of supporters built beforehand.

Sports betting in Atlanta

There may be worse places in the United States for a gambling enthusiast but overall Atlanta is pretty bad. Georgia is one of the most gambling restrictive states in the country already and crossing the border isn’t much of an option since the city is surrounding by more restrictive states.

Georgia was one of the first states in the region to ban the sale of lottery tickets—a very popular activity in the postwar South. Georgia made the sale of lottery tickets illegal in 1878 and this law remained in force for over a century. In perhaps the only ‘good news’ from a gambling standpoint, Georgia now has a state lottery launched in 1993 with the usual assortment of draw games including the big national pools (MegaMillions and PowerBall). It also offers a Keno game with drawings every 3 ½ minutes and scratch-off games. To their credit, the Georgia Lottery offers MegaMillions and Powerball tickets for sale online. Keno and several other games are also available online. Sadly, there’s not much more to suggest for Atlanta residents. They could drive up to the Tennessee border near Chattanooga and play at the state line welcome center with a variety of vending machines. That’s a beautiful part of the country though not much more for gambling than they have it home.

The best option for Georgia gamblers is to cross the border into Florida but that isn’t much consolation for Atlanta residents. Located in the Northwest portion of the state they’ve got a nearly five hour drive down Interstate 25 to reach the Florida border. There they’ll find more bad news—there’s a few greyhound tracks with card rooms but the first ‘real’ casino they’ll encounter is the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa over 6 hours from home. Alternately, they can head two hours West and play at the Wind Creek Montgomery, a Native American property and one of Alabama’s three casinos. The property itself is nice but unfortunately they’re limited to Class 2 (‘bingo style’) slot machines. A better option isn’t much further away—it’s just under three hours to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in North Carolina which offers better slot machine and video poker options but no table games.

Georgia residents still have at least one casino cruise operating out of the Savannah area which allows gambling in international waters but that’s a long drive from Atlanta. There’s also a casino cruise operating out of Orlando, Florida but at that point the Atlanta gambler is better off just hitting one of the casinos in South Florida. The time and hassle for the Atlanta resident finding a place to gamble is such that they might as well head over to Hartsfield International Airport and take one of the frequent and inexpensive flights to Las Vegas. They’ll be in ‘Sin City’ in 4 hours and at that point will have plenty of gambling options. Otherwise, they’re stuck scratching off lottery tickets.

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