Why Can’t We Play Craps in California?

Written By Play CA Editorial Team on April 5, 2022 - Last Updated on April 12, 2022

Gambling is prevalent in the Golden State, with casinos in California generating billions in revenue every year. Casino-goers can enjoy an eclectic range of popular betting options, including poker, blackjack and slot machines.

Despite numerous gambling options, craps remain conspicuously absent at California casinos. Here’s a closer look at why this popular game is banned in the state.

California gambling laws

With online betting still not yet available in CA, all forms of gambling are limited to tribal casinos. After passing landmark Proposition 1A in 2000, gambling is accessible to millions of Californians; however, there are some built-in exceptions.

One concession was a targeted elimination of certain types of games that pit players against the house. While card-based games, like poker, are allowed, the amendment excludes games of chance decided by the spin of a wheel or roll of the dice, meaning that craps and roulette are banned in the state.

Why is craps banned?

Since dice rolling is a fundamental aspect of the game and the sole determinant of the outcome, there is no craps at California casinos.

Fortunately for fans of the game, there is a workaround.

Craps at California casinos

A 2004 ruling on California gambling allowed for a variation of craps at tribal casinos, referred to as California craps. 

The game follows similar rules and betting odds of conventional craps. But, it substitutes dice for two sets of six cards marked ace through six. This, basically, simulates a traditional six-sided die.

Cards get placed in an automatic shuffler that randomly generates the results (i.e., an ace and a five would be the same as rolling a six).

While it lacks some of the thrills that come from a hot shooter on a roll, California craps is a viable alternative for fans of the game eager to play craps in California.

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