Poker in Georgia

Introduction

Population: 10,620,000

Capital: Atlanta

Currency: United States Dollar ($)

Time Zone: UTC-5

State Name Abbreviation: GA

Casinos with Poker

Georgia, a large Southern state on the East Coast, does not have legal gambling, unfortunately. In fact, they have a state constitutional ban on almost all gambling. Please note one thing: this US state is not to be confused with the Euroasian nation by the same name, which is actually the gambling hub of its region.

A prohibition written in a state constitution usually doesn’t mean the end to all live casino gaming in the US. That is because of the 1988 Indian Gaming Act, a federal law, which allows Native Americans to decide for themselves whether or not they want to operate casinos on their reservations. However, in Georgia, even that wasn’t enough to “save the day”: only a single Indian casino, the Emerald Princess Casino in Brunswick, GA, runs in the entire state.

What’s worse: they don’t even have a poker room. That’s right, there is not a single legal live poker room in Georgia. And the online poker situation isn’t any better either.

Despite all that, the “Peach State” has given poker many amazing, highly accomplished players. 

One of the most influential players in poker history, Chris Moneymaker, was born in Georgia too. Even though media coverage of him likes to refer to him as “a simple accountant from Tennessee” when discussing his historic WSOP Main Event win, but that is because that’s where he was working at the time. He was actually born in Atlanta, Georgia.

You can read about him and a whole slew of other poker greats from the state of Georgia in the next section.

Famous Georgian Poker Players

As we wrote above, Chris Moneymaker is from Georgia. He won the 2003 WSOP Main Event for $2.5 million. He qualified for the tournament through an $86 online satellite. His story – the simple chubby amateur becoming the world champion and winning millions from just 80 bucks – captivated the nation. This ultimately led to the “Moneymaker boom”, an era in the early 2000’s when the traffic for live and online poker rooms shot up everywhere in the US – and then, in the whole world.

Currently Cary Katz tops the Georgia, USA all time money list on Hendon. He cashed for $30.730 million in live tournaments during his career. That is astonishing even for a pro – however, Katz is more of a recreational player. He made his millions through his student loan company. Then he made investments in the poker world as well, most notably, the online poker content streaming service PokerGO

In September 2019, he took down the £250,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl in London for £2.1 million ($2.61 million), which is the biggest single live tournament score of his career to date.

Billy Baxter was born in Augusta, GA. He is a 7-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. Interestingly, all of his bracelets were won in lowball events.

Samantha Abernathy is a prominent female player from Atlanta, GA who is best known for making a deep run in the 2016 Aussie Millions Main Event, and for appearing on the TV show Poker Night in America on CBS Sports.

 

– Playing Live Poker in Georgia –

   Live Poker Legislation in Georgia

As we wrote in our intro, Georgia has a state constitutional ban on gambling. Section II Paragraph VIII of the Georgia State Constitution states:

“Except as herein specifically provided in this Paragraph VIII, all lotteries, and the sale of lottery tickets, and all forms of pari-mutuel betting and casino gambling are hereby prohibited.”

Two exceptions were added to this rule through constitutional amendments: bingo in 1976 and the state lottery in 1992. So, technically, there is a slim chance of poker getting its own legal exception someday – however, so far, there has not been any serious discussion on that.

§16-12-20 in the Georgia Code covers the criminal offenses related to gambling. It states that all gambling contracts are void – so you won’t have any legal way of collecting your money if you win -; and lists all the prohibited means of gambling, such as horse and dog racing, slot machines, and poker, among others. Even owning paraphernalia that is used for games of chance is against the law in the state of Georgia.

  Live Poker Venues in Georgia

Evidently, in a legal environment like that, it’s hard for a poker room to operate.

In fact, there isn’t a single poker room running in the entire state of Georgia. The only Native American casino, the Emerald Princess Casino in Brunswick, GA, does not offer poker games to their patrons.

Georgian poker players need to travel quite a bit to the nearby state Florida, or not-so-nearby Mississippi and West Virginia for some live action.

– Casinos and Poker Rooms in Georgia –

  Online Poker in Georgia

There is no legal online gambling in Georgia.

Online games are not mentioned anywhere in the state constitution or in the Penal Code – however, as the American online poker community learnt it on Black Friday, that makes it illegal by default due to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. And given the aggressive stance against games of chance by the law in Georgia, this is not the state to try and test it again…