Bingo is one of only three legal forms of gambling in Georgia. The other two legal forms of gambling are the Georgia Lottery and raffles. Every night across the state, thousands of players crowd into auditoriums and bingo halls in hopes of winning cash prizes. Annually, millions of dollars pass through the hands of Georgia bingo operators.
Georgia's bingo statute is one of the most restrictive in the country. Georgia only allows $1,500 per session or $3,000 per week to be paid in prizes. The amount of the prizes directly relates to the amount bet by bingo players and limits the profits that can be made by the operator.
The majority of Georgia's bingo operators, consisting of veterans groups and service clubs, run their bingo games as a fund raising activity as intended by law. However, bingo is the lifeblood for some organizations and the main purpose for their existence. Although Georgia's bingo games are on a restricted scale, bingo is a cash flow business that leaves ample room for misuse.
Bingo is not the only form of gambling found in some of these organizations. Illegal lotteries, pull-tabs and slot machines have been used by some to generate additional income. Since 1981 about 50 organizations have lost their bingo license through suspension or revocation for repeated rule violations or for conducting illegal gambling activities. Many of these organizations and their officers have been charged with commercial gambling or related crimes.