But It Was Just a Bet: Avoiding Gambling Charges in Georgia

Like most other states, Georgia has laws against gambling. However, Georgia’s gambling laws (O.C.G.A. § 16-12-20) are relatively strict, and the prohibited activities may surprise you.

Georgia defines gambling as betting on the final result of a game or contest or wagering on games played with cards, dice, or balls, in order to win money or items of value. While there are clear examples such as horse races or slot machines, there are also less obvious examples such as a private poker game or raffle that isn’t for approved charitable purposes.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of prohibited forms of gambling, here are the most common types of gambling that are illegal in the state:

  • Sports betting
  • Poker games
  • Horse racing
  • Dog racing
  • Dog fighting
  • Casinos
  • Election wagering
  • Commercial gambling
  • Chain letters
  • Pyramid clubs
  • Raffles and contests that are not for approved charitable purposes

The punishments associated with gambling convictions vary greatly depending on the specific charges. Being convicted of engaging in unregulated gambling is a misdemeanor in the State of Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 16-12-21). However, those who face charges of commercial gambling can be charged with a felony with a punishment of one to five years in prison and/or fines up to $20,000 (O.C.G.A. § 16-12-22).

Online poker remains a blurry line, in that there is little relevant case law covering this growing trend. This will inevitably change in the upcoming years, and Georgia will take a clear stance on this issue.

Many clients find themselves facing gambling charges for activities they didn’t realize were illegal. If you find yourself in this situation, we can help.

At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.