Bingo is king in Georgia. Georgia is where Bingo originated in America, way back in 1929. But in the decades after Bingo showed up (by way of Italy) at a county fair in Georgia, the game had been outlawed with most other forms of gambling.
In 1976, Bingo was legalized for non-profit organizations. Since Bingo is one of only three forms of gambling legal in Georgia (along with raffles and the state lottery), the game has become a huge crowd pleaser.
There are well over 200 bingo operators in Georgia today. Georgians grossed over $35,000,000 in revenues for its Bingo operators in 2005, for an average of around $130,000 per operation. Georgians won over $20,000,000 in prizes over the same span. Georgian charities saw $1.5 in proceeds from the Bingo industry.
Georgia has some of the strictest bingo laws in the U.S. Operators are restricted in the amount of prizes they can pay at any one time. Games can hand out prizes with a $1,500 per session and $3,000 per week, which is well below the limits in certain other states.
The Georgia Bureaus of Investigation: Bingo Unit (which sounds a little like a C.S.I. television series in the making) regulates bingo games in the state. In the last 25 years, around 50 organizations have lost their license in Georgia for repeated violations of the local gambling laws. The result is that most bingo palaces in Georgia are V.F.W.s and service organizations, the kind of organizations which run a game to fund their non-profit activities.
Of course, as long as bingo is a big money venture, there will be those who find a way to skirt the law. With 12,000 or more people employed in the charitable gambling industry of Georgia, the Bingo Unit is certain to be busy in the years to come.