Yeargan & Kert - March 2020

THE DEFENSE REPORT

MARCH 2020

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WHY MANY GEORGIANS WILL BREAK THE LAW THIS MONTH DON’T CHANCE THE BRACKET I ’ll come out and say it. I’m not a huge college basketball fan. NCAA games in general weren’t a huge draw for me in undergrad or law school — Emory isn’t exactly known for its sports teams. I’ll still have a good game on in the background occasionally, and I can understand the hype around March Madness. But one thing that always interests me this time of year is how many people make those tournament brackets. I don’t want to be a killjoy, but this is the lawyer in me coming out. Those brackets we see getting put together by celebrities on Twitter and national news, those friendly office competitions to see who can make the closest prediction — they’re depicting something that can be deeply illegal in this state. Even if you’re just playing for pocket change. The truth is that we live in a state with some of the harshest gambling laws in the country, and plenty of people run afoul of them year-round. And this isn’t just backroom poker games, either. Charities that fail to file the proper paperwork ahead of a raffle event or an unsanctioned bingo game fall on the wrong side of the law here in Georgia, and sports gambling is no exception. In fact, the only real way you can “roll the dice” in this state — without filing lots of paperwork — is playing the lottery.

While it’s rare for these instances to be prosecuted, you probably don’t want to go posting about your “office pool” on Facebook, or taking Instagram pictures of the wad of cash you just won for picking which underdog team would make it to the final 4. This isn’t too much of a problem for me. I’m not one for sports gambling to begin with — too many unknown factors. I prefer competitions where there’s a greater amount of skill involved than random chance, so in states where it’s legal, I may play a few rounds of blackjack or poker. At least those game games aren’t just about the hand you’re dealt, but how you play it. Which, honestly, is a lot like being a lawyer. I hear novice attorneys sometimes talk about “rolling the dice” on jury selection, and I can understand the sentiment. There’s very little control you can have over who those six very important court members are going to be.

“CHARITIES THAT FAIL TO FILE THE PROPER PAPERWORK AHEAD OF A RAFFLE EVENT OR AN UNSANCTIONED BINGO GAME FALL ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE LAW HERE IN GEORGIA, AND SPORTS GAMBLING IS NO EXCEPTION.”

However, more experienced lawyers know the way you approach a case can make up for that “bad hand” of jurors. After all, what we do is far too important to be left to chance. –Jim Yeargan

Now, I’m not saying the swat team is going to kick down your door for filling out a March Madness bracket. But I am pointing out that this time of year, many Georgian sports fans unwittingly break the law participating in something that’s fine in other parts of the country.

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