The lone bright spot in all of this is that Georgia has never addressed the question of whether online gambling in general and online poker in particular is legal or illegal. Certainly, the state has taken an aggressive approach to internet gambling cafes by attempting to shut them down as illegal gambling businesses.
In August of 2014, the Georgia lottery came out against Sheldon Adelson’s proposed online gambling ban. This is not surprising considering Georgia is one of three states that offers the sale of lottery tickets over the Internet.
However, the play of online poker from a private home is a murky question. While Georgia law generally disfavors poker (it is illegal in Georgia in almost every live form that involves some element of real money) it’s hard to see how the state could make a case for private play on servers located outside of the state.
Then again, this is one of a handful of states that still enforces anti-sodomy laws. In Georgia, it would seem, anything is possible.
Like neighboring Alabama to the west, Georgia is quite conservative when it comes to gambling. Georgia Code Section 16-12-21(a)(3) criminalizes playing and betting for money at any game played with cards.
This is not even an issue of whether chance or skill is predominant or influences the outcome to a material degree. The definition of “bet” in the Georgia Code short-circuits that argument entirely by including bets what have an element of skill to them.
Long story short, if the game is played with cards, you can’t bet on it nor can you run a business based on it in Georgia. That includes poker. Live poker is illegal in Georgia, as are all forms of gambling except for bingo and the lottery.
That means no tribal gaming to offer a backdoor to live poker. And in the biggest blow of all, it also means no home game poker. There is no social or private game exception to Georgia’s anti-gambling law.
Georgia is one of several states that has expanded into online lottery sales.