California Online Gambling

The latest on CA online gambling, sports betting, poker and more.
California Mayors support legalized sports betting in order to tackle homelessness in Fresno and other CA cities

Welcome to PlayCA, your source for California online gambling news and information.

Sports betting is not currently legal in California, online or otherwise. Nor are online casinos, although those in CA can play casino games online at social and sweepstakes sites. You can also play daily fantasy sports online in CA. The state is home to the popular California Lottery, but tickets cannot be purchased online. There are plenty of other opportunities for in-person gambling as well at the state’s many tribal casinos and card rooms. 

Here you will find all the latest regarding online gambling in California including information about currently legal options and news about possible gambling expansion in the future. Check back regularly for updates from around the state.

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Retail and Online Casinos 

California is home to almost 70 casinos, all operated by Native American tribes. As such, California boasts the largest tribal gambling market in the US. Slots are the main attraction along with other card-based table games. Note that California law technically forbids craps, roulette, and certain other casino games. However, many casinos have come up with workarounds like “California Roulette,” a game that plays like traditional roulette but features playing cards.

Meanwhile, real money online casinos are illegal in California. For now, social and sweepstakes casinos are the best options for those wanting to play casino games online. Sites like WOW Vegas, McLuck Casino, High 5 Casino, Pulsz, Funzpoints, Stake.us and others enable players to play online for fun. The sites use virtual currencies, but in some cases offer chances to redeem winnings for cash prizes.

California Card Rooms

Card rooms have a long, rich history in California. In fact, during the middle decades of the 20th century, the Gardena card rooms were the only legal alternative for live poker in the US to those in Las Vegas. Sometimes called casinos, these rooms primarily feature poker, although the larger ones also offer other games like Caribbean stud, baccarat, and a version of blackjack.

Since California law forbids house-banked card games, all of these card games are designed as player-versus-player games. Currently there are over 80 active card room licenses in the state with 60-70 operating card rooms at any given time. The largest is the Commerce Casino, with more than 370 tables.

Horse Racing

Pari-mutuel wagering on horse races is legal in California. The state hosts several highly rated thoroughbred racetracks, including Santa Anita Park and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in the southern part of the state and Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco. In addition, Los Alamitos Race Course is a favorite destination for fans of quarter horse racing, and the Northern California fair circuit runs for several months during the summer and fall.

California also allows advance deposit wagering on horse races around the world. Bettors can wager on races at several off-track betting parlors in the state. They can also place their bets online at ADW sites like FanDuel Racing, TVG and TwinSpires.

Daily Fantasy Sports 

California is one of many states that neither expressly forbid nor allow daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests. Lawmakers have introduced DFS bills in the past, but they have all failed to advance. In any case, DFS sites like Underdog FantasyBetr, DraftKings, FanDuel and others are all available to those in California.

As a result, California comprises one of the largest DFS markets in the entire country. There are an estimated 120,000 players in the state contributing more than $200 million in DFS entry fees each year. That total comprises about 10% of all DFS players in the US.

 

California Lottery

The California State Lottery began selling tickets in 1985 to help fund public education. In addition to a variety of scratch-off games (“scratchers”), the lottery offers several draw games. These include in-state games like Fantasy 5, Daily 4, Daily 3, Daily Derby, Hot Spot, and the popular SuperLotto Plus.

California also participates in the big multi-jurisdictional drawing games, Powerball and Mega Millions. Thanks to California state law, the prize amounts for both Powerball and Mega Millions are pari-mutuel, meaning in CA they differ from the fixed prizes available to players from other states. You must purchase California Lottery tickets at lottery retailers (i.e., no online sales).

Sports Betting

Sports betting is not yet among the legal gambling options in the state. Even so, there is significant interest in having California join the many other states who have legalized sports betting since the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on doing so in 2018. Those states include all three that border California, as Nevada, Arizona, and Oregon all have legal sports betting.

California sports betting propositions covering both retail and online options have failed in the past, including most recently in 2022. There is hope, though. A federal court ruling in Florida reaffirming the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s compact could be a potential game-changer for the potential launch of online sports betting in California. Now, tribes in other states can follow the Seminoles’ lead to set up tribally exclusive online sports betting under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

But still, the earliest California could legalize sports betting is probably at least a couple of years away.

FAQ

No, online gambling for real money is not legal in California at present, at least not generally speaking. There are a few exceptions, including wagering on horse races online via advance deposit wagering and entering daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests online. Meanwhile, the only online casino or online poker games Californians can play legally are on social and sweepstakes sites.

Dating back to the mid-2000s, California lawmakers have repeatedly considered the possibility of legalizing certain forms of online gambling including poker, casino games, and sports betting. Most recently the focus has been entirely upon online sports betting, but following a 

Generally speaking, the minimum age to gamble in California is 18 years old. You must be at least 18 to play the lottery, bet on horse races or participate in most forms of charitable gambling. Most tribal casinos have a minimum age of 18 to gamble, although those that serve alcohol on the casino floor will require patrons to be at least 21. Players must be at least 21 to play “charity poker nights,” as well.

Sports betting is not legal in California, at least not yet. In the past, proposed bills have all failed to advance thanks in large part to the many competing gambling interests in the state. This includes two propositions that were crushed at the ballot box in the fall of 2022. Meanwhile, Californians wishing to bet on sports legally have to travel elsewhere to do so, including to all three bordering states. Nevada, Oregon, and Arizona all have legal sports betting available.

Yes, Californians can play daily fantasy sports (DFS). The state has no law expressly authorizing DFS, but it also has no law prohibiting it, thus making California like many states where DFS legally operates in a “gray” area. DraftKings, FanDuel, and other DFS sites all accept California players in their contests.

No, you cannot legally play online casino games for real money in California. Offshore online sites that allow California players to play for real money do not fall under state or federal regulations. Such sites are risky for Californians, and we do not recommend them. Players in CA can play online casino games on social and sweepstakes sites that use virtual currencies.

You cannot legally play online poker for real money in California. You can, however, play online poker at sites using the sweepstakes model that employ virtual currencies. Global Poker is the most popular example of a sweepstakes online poker site that accepts California players.

The most significant obstacles to any gambling expansion in California are the competing interests of key stakeholders. There is ongoing acrimony between the tribes and card rooms, as the tribes maintain the rooms illegally violate their compacts with the state. That conflict has affected all efforts to legalize online casinos and sports betting. The tribes have long opposed legalizing online gambling, as they worry it may hurt the bottom line at their retail casinos, although they have shown signs they could potentially adjust that position. Meanwhile, California lawmakers haven’t shown much agreement, either, when it comes to gambling expansion, thereby making the situation even less conducive to building the sort of consensus necessary for new legislation to move forward.

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