In this article we’ll explore all the gambling options available to Atlanta players in 2023. This will include land-based casinos in Atlanta or nearby, cruise ship casinos in Georgia, and, of course, Atlanta online casinos.
We will also cover the legalities of gambling in Atlanta and will explain the current state of legislation and what future developments can we look forward to.
The goal of this article is to examine and explain all the gambling options available to you as a player from Atlanta, and to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to play those real money games such as slot machines, table games, poker or anything else you want to try your luck with.
On this page you’ll learn about:
It’s fair to say that gambling in Atlanta is heavily regulated. The Georgia Constitution specifically prohibits all known forms of gambling one by one, which includes casino gambling, sports betting, horse racing, and even poker.
Gambling in Georgia has always been highly restricted, with only a few types of gambling allowed under state law. While there is no specific legislation that covers online gambling, Georgia state law is generally considered to prohibit online gambling as well as traditional forms of gambling, except for those specifically permitted by law.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you’re a fan of the real money lottery, bingo, or raffles, you’re in luck. For example, the Georgia State Lottery is legal and widely played in the state. It was authorized by a constitutional amendment in 1992. Additionally, bingo and raffles are legal in certain circumstances. Non-profit organizations are allowed to host bingo games and raffles as long as the proceeds are used for charitable purposes. For-profit companies cannot offer these games.
As of now, there are no land-based casinos in Atlanta or the entire state of Georgia. To truly scratch the gambling itch, you will have to be willing to travel as there are plenty of casinos and sportsbooks in the neighboring states. Or you’ll simply visit one of the offshore USA online casinos.
Any legalization of any form of gambling would require a constitutional amendment, and this happened only twice, in 1976, when the residents voted in favor of legal bingo, and in 1992, when the state lottery was set up, almost three decades after most of the other states have passed similar regulations.
Under federal law, Indian tribes have the right to operate casinos on their tribal lands. However, this is sadly not an option in Georgia as there are no federally recognized Indian tribes in the state.
Engaging in illegal gambling constitutes a misdemeanor in Georgia, with a penalty of a fine up to $1000.
There are certain attempts to legalize gambling in the state in recent years. Every year in the General Assembly, some lawmakers try to expand gambling. But none have been successful so far.
In 2018 there was a bill that looked to legalize daily fantasy sports. Nothing happened.
In 2019, the Georgia Senate Special Judiciary Committee passed a resolution to create a study committee on gambling. The study committee was tasked with examining the potential impact of legalizing casinos in the state, as well as other forms of gambling such as sports betting and online gambling. However, no further action was taken on this initiative, and it seems the committee never even reached a conclusion that would be presented to the Senate.
There was a last-minute 60-page bill in 2022 that was supposed to legalize gambling, but nothing came of it. In 2023, Georgia lawmakers are pushing bills that would allow sports betting and horse race betting without the need for a state constitutional amendment, arguing that these two gambling activities can be legal under the authority of the state lottery.
House Bill 380 would allow sports betting only, while Senate Bill 57 would explicitly include horse racing as part of gambling on sports. The latter bill is sponsored by Senator Billy Hickman, a Statesboro Republican, and it would also allow for three horse racing tracks with betting in the state of Georgia. The bill was passed by the Senate Economic Development Committee by eight votes to one on February 21st, 2023, sending it on to the Rules Committee to schedule a vote of the full Senate. The bill would require a simple majority in the state House and Senate to pass.
There are no land-based casinos in the city of Atlanta. In fact, there are no casinos in the entire state of Georgia. If you’re looking to play casino games, you’ll have to travel to a neighboring state such as North Carolina or Alabama, or board a cruise ship on Georgia’s Atlantic coast.
Address: 777 Casino Parkway, Murphy, NC 28906
Distance from Atlanta: 120 miles
Drive time from Atlanta: about 2 hours (no traffic)
Casino size: 60,000 sqft
Games available: slot machines, table games, sportsbook, video poker
Other facilities: restaurants and bars
Hotel: 300 rooms
As it turns out, there is a land-based casino within driving distance of Atlanta. The Murphy Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel is located in Murphy, North Carolina, approximately 120 miles north of Atlanta, which is around a 2-hour drive.
The casino features a 60,000 sqft gambling area with over 1,000 slot machines and table games, sportsbook and video poker. Note that real poker isn’t available here. The facility is also home to several restaurants and bars, as well as a 300-room hotel, so it makes for a nice weekend gambling getaway for Atlanta players.
While it’s not located in the state of Georgia, this casino is the closest option for Atlanta residents who are looking to play casino games. However, it’s worth noting once again that players will need to cross the state line to get there.
Address: 777 Casino Drive, Cherokee, NC 28719
Distance from Atlanta: 160 miles
Drive time from Atlanta: just under 3 hours (no traffic)
Casino size: 150,000 sqft
Games available: slot machines, table games, sportsbook, live poker
Other facilities: restaurants, bars, annual WSOP event, 15,000 sqft conference center
Hotel: 1.833 rooms
This is another Cherokee casino in North Carolina, and we’re mentioning it because, unlike the one in Murphy, it has live poker. Not only that, it hosts an annual WSOP event.
While you might want to visit the Murphy Harrah’s Casino as it’s closer to Atlanta, this one is just a bit further away and it is a much larger facility with so much more to offer. There are four towers with 1,833 rooms, making Harrah’s Cherokee the largest hotel in North Carolina. The casino is almost three times the size of Murphy Harrah’s.
Interestingly, since the Cherokee tribe’s compact with NC restricts the types of gambling permitted, most games offered in this casino have significant differences to those you’ll find in other casinos. Most slot machines have an element of skill included. Meaning, after the initial spin of the reels, the player is allowed to lock selected reels and spin again, adding an element of skill to gambling.
That makes for an absolutely unique experience that can only be had if you are prepared to take that three-hour drive there and back.
We’ll just briefly mention the two Alabama casinos that are 170 and 155 miles from Atlanta respectively, and can be reached with a sub-three-hour drive. There are no poker, sportsbook or table games in these casinos – it’s just slot machines. And some dining and entertainment.
This would be it as far as the nearby casino options are concerned. There are no other casinos in the 200-mile range from Atlanta other than the four we’re mentioning in this article, plus the cruise ship.
Wind Creek Wetumpka
100 River Oaks Dr, Wetumpka, AL 36092
Wind Creek Montgomery
1801 Eddie L Tullis Rd, Montgomery, AL 36117
In addition to the nearby casino in North Carolina, there are also cruise ship casinos that depart from Georgia ports and go about three miles off shore. As far as Atlanta residents are concerned, this option is actually further away than the NC casino, despite this one being in the same state.
The Emerald Princess Casino is located in Brunswick, Georgia, which is approximately 310 miles southeast of Atlanta. The modern Emerald Princess II cruise ship is home to a casino that features over 250 slot machines and table games, as well as a full bar and grill. The Emerald Princess Casino offers daily cruises that depart from Brunswick and last for 5 hours. Both casino floors are designated smoking areas.
Find this ship at 1 Emerald Princess Drive, in Brunswick, GA 31523. Call them at 912-265-3558, or visit their official website at https://www.emeraldprincesscasino.com/ and make your booking. There is a $10 joining fee, and you will be permitted to board if you produce a photo ID. The minimum age to ride the boat and gamble is 18, but you must be 21 to consume alcoholic beverages on board.
The drive from Atlanta to Brunswick typically takes around 4 to 5 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. You do need to get back home after the five-hour cruise, too. That makes the Emerald Princess Casino visit at least a fifteen-hour road trip if you’re going back the same day.
There used to be a Tradewinds Casino Cruise on a ship named Escapade that operated out of Savannah, Georgia. The casino featured three decks, 6,000 sqft of gambling area, and could accommodate 450 passengers.
The ship is currently coked in a marina after it ran aground twice in space of two years, after which it was deemed inoperable by the Coast Guard. The ship was listed for sale but was left unsold despite a significant price reduction from the original asking price. Latest reports say that the owners are looking to take possession of the ship and renovate it.
It is therefore possible – though not at all likely – that Tradewinds Casino will sail again.
In summary, while there are no land-based casinos in the state of Georgia, there are several nearby options for those looking to gamble. The Murphy Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel is the closest land-based casino, located in Murphy, North Carolina. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, just a bit further, is a larger casino with even more to offer. There are two Alabama casinos with real money slot machines only if you’re going west. In addition, there is one cruise ship casino that departs from Brunswick, Georgia, the Emerald Princess Casino.
And for those who prefer to gamble from the comfort of their own home, there are several online casinos that accept players from Atlanta. And that would, in fact, be the best choice unless you’re going out for a gambling weekend in one of the Cherokee casinos in NC.
Currently, all forms of gambling except for state lottery and non-profit bingo and raffles are illegal in Atlanta and the state of Georgia.
The one legal way to gamble in Georgia is to board the single cruise ship casino that is available in the state, as all gambling activities will begin only once the ship is off shore.
Technically, the only way to gamble for real money in Atlanta is to go online and visit and offshore casino that will take you as a player.
The state of Georgia has traditionally held a very firm stance regarding gambling, so anything that resembles gambling activity, with the exception of state lottery, is simply outlawed.
The general trend in the US points towards legalization and regulation, though that usually doesn’t change Georgia’s stances one bit – at least until the change comes from within. Recently it did come from a Statesboro senator Billy Hickman in the shape of Senate Bill 57 that is looking to exploit a legal loophole and make sports betting and horse racing legal in the state without the need for a constitutional amendment.
It is these kind of attempts that are required to make gambling legal in Atlanta and in Georgia, as otherwise it wouldn’t be surprising to have Georgia be one of the last remaining states in the US that haven’t yet regulated gambling.
Online gambling at offshore casinos from Atlanta is probably the best option you may have to scratch that gambling itch, since land-based options are virtually non-existent.
The act of visiting an online casino completely circumvents the unfavorable legal situation regarding gambling in Atlanta, dismisses the need for a lengthy drive to one of the nearby casinos, and gives you instant access to the top casino games that players from other states are already playing.
Some of the best online casinos that accept Atlanta players are listed below.
Yes. There are quality offshore casinos that accept Atlanta players.
No, none. There isn’t a single land based casino in Atlanta, though there is one cruise ship casino in Brunswick that you can board and then gamble a few miles off shore.
No. Gambling, except for state lottery and non-profit bingo and raffles, are currently illegal in the entire state of Georgia, which includes Atlanta.
No. Sports betting is considered a form of gambling under Georgia state law, and s therefore illegal. However, sports betting seems to have the best odds to be the most likely form of gambling that will become legal in Atlanta and Georgia at some point.
Under Georgia law, poker is generally considered to be a form of gambling and is therefore not allowed under state law. That means that playing poker in public or private games for money or other things of value is illegal in Atlanta and throughout the state.
Yes, there is a state lottery in Georgia that is operated by the Georgia Lottery Corporation. The Georgia Lottery offers a variety of games, including draw games like Mega Millions and Powerball, instant games, and other games like Keno and Diggi Games. Players can purchase tickets at authorized lottery retailers throughout the state, including in Atlanta. Revenue generated from the Georgia Lottery is used to fund education initiatives in the state, such as the HOPE Scholarship program.
No. Indian casinos would be allowed to operate in Georgia, if there were only any federally recognized Indian tribes in the state.