Currently, California doesn’t offer legal online casino games. The state’s legislative efforts on internet-based gambling have only revolved around poker, so far.
However, California’s push for online poker could be a sign that the Golden State could regulate online casino gaming in the coming years.
What can you expect when this scenario comes to fruition? Here, we’ll cover what may be coming to California, from online casinos to available games, mobile apps and more.
Playing casino games online in California
At the moment, everything regarding California online gaming is pure speculation. However, multiple states already offer regulated online casinos and serve as models for what we might expect from the process.
If these other states are any indication, then you shouldn’t have trouble getting started with CA gaming sites. Below are the key aspects of playing at these online casinos.
Every online casino requires you to complete account registration before becoming a customer. This process involves filling out an account form and submitting it for approval.
Here’s some information that you must provide to open an account at the casino:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Username and password
- Mobile number
- Bonus code (if applicable)
You also need to agree to the site’s general terms and conditions before submitting your account. Once the casino approves your account, you become eligible to receive email offers and make a deposit.
Play within California borders
You need to be within California’s state lines to register and play at a legal online casino. California would face legal issues if it allowed neighboring states to play at its future internet-based casinos.
Casinos use geolocation technology to determine whether you’re within state borders; otherwise, you won’t be able to access legal CA online casinos if and when they become available.
Minimum gambling age
You must be 18 years or older to gamble in California. This age limit would likely extend to online casino games.
Some land-based casinos that serve alcohol will likely raise their minimum gambling age to 21 years to comply with the state’s drinking age law. However, we don’t foresee this being an issue at online casinos since they can’t serve alcohol.
Free California online casino games
Every regulated online casino lets you play free games. California shouldn’t be any different in this respect.
Some sites let you try free games regardless of whether you’re a member, while others require you to complete the account registration before enjoying free gaming.
Can I play for real money?
You need to make a deposit before becoming eligible to play real money casino games. California, like other states, should offer plenty of deposit methods.
Various casino banking options include ACH (e-checks), credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets and bank transfer.
Regulated states also give players the ability to make cash deposits at casinos. Dubbed “cash at the cage,” this option is perfect for those who don’t own a bank account or credit card.
What casino games can you anticipate?
The online gaming industry tends to feature the same types of games across the board. Slots, table games, live dealer gaming (discussed later), video poker and even virtual sports are available.
Slots are the most popular games at online casinos, and most regulated gaming sites offer hundreds of slots.
Table games consist of baccarat, blackjack, craps, let it ride, roulette, and pai gow poker. Blackjack is especially popular, with many casinos featuring several variations.
Standard video poker variations include:
- Bonus poker
- Deuces wild
- Draw poker
- Double bonus poker
- Double double bonus poker
- Jacks or better
- Tens or better
Virtual sports is a new category that’s hitting the regulated gaming market. You bet on these virtual 3D sports matches, then watch the action play out as your wager hangs in the balance.
The game selection at every casino depends on the size of the operation and the number of software providers they feature. Most sites offer several hundred games that come with plenty of options.
Land based vs. online casinos
California became the first state to feature tribal gaming in 1987. Since then, nearly 70 tribal casinos have sprung up, along with dozens of state-licensed card rooms.
Assuming online gaming becomes legal in CA, residents will undoubtedly compare internet- and land-based casino options. Here are a few main differences between brick-and-mortar and online casinos.
Online casinos offer lower stakes
The “low” stakes for brick-and-mortar table games range from $5 to $10. Meanwhile, online casinos let you play table games for as little as $1 per round.
Land-based slot machines typically cost anywhere from 50 cents (50 credits) to $3 (300 credits) to play. Online slots can cost just one penny to play (1 line/1 cent).
Land-based casinos guarantee a unique atmosphere
Internet casinos offer many likable qualities; however, they can’t replace the atmosphere of brick-and-mortar casinos.
Land-based venues involve a social atmosphere that includes dealers, cocktail waitresses and fellow players. They also feature amenities, restaurants and luxury hotel suites.
Online casinos are open 24/7
Some California brick-and-mortar casinos are open 24/7; however, not all of them fall into this category.
Internet-based casinos, on the other hand, never close for the night. You can rely on gaming sites during twilight hours and holidays.
One casino games offer lower house edges
Brick-and-mortar casinos have a lot more expenses to cover than their online counterparts; however, they earn some of this money back by providing games with high house edges.
This aspect is most noticeable with penny slot machines, which come with house advantages ranging from 8% to 12%. Even blackjack, which traditionally carries a razor-thin house edge, now gives land-based casinos up to a 2% advantage.
Meanwhile, online casinos offer much lower house edges across the board. Most online slots carry a 3-5% house advantage, while blackjack features between a 0.5% and 1% edge.
Brick-and-mortar casinos offer interesting comps
Both internet- and land-based casinos give loyalty rewards to players. However, the latter feature more exciting comps.
Players can earn free drinks, meals, limousine rides, choice nightclub tables and hotel stays at land-based casinos. Gamblers can even speak to the VIP host about customizing their rewards.
Gaming sites are limited in what they offer but offer cash back, free spins and deposit bonuses as the primary rewards.
You can get a welcome bonus at gaming sites
Online casinos offer welcome bonuses to attract new players. These deals usually consist of deposit bonuses and free spins.
A deposit bonus offers an amount based on a match percentage of your deposit (e.g., 100% match bonus of up to $200). Free spins give you the chance to generate winnings that you can cash out upon meeting specific terms and conditions.
Land-based casinos offer plenty of loyalty rewards. Unfortunately, they don’t feature welcome bonuses like gaming sites.
Online casinos let you play free games
You can play free online casino games without betting a dime. Some gaming sites don’t even require you to register for an account before playing.
Online casinos hope that you’ll eventually decide to make a deposit and play for real money. Again, though, you’re not obligated to deposit money.
Land-based venues sometimes offer instructional tables where you can learn to play blackjack or another table game. However, in every other case, brick-and-mortar casinos require you to place real bets to play.
Mobile casino games in California
Mobile gaming has helped propel online casinos to new heights; therefore, legal California online casinos are sure to be compatible with mobile devices.
Most gaming sites are available through Android and iOS. You should be able to play at CA online casinos as long as your smartphone or tablet runs one of these operating systems.
As mentioned, you will need to be within California’s borders because casinos use geolocation technology to determine where your mobile device is before allowing you on their site.
Depending on the operator, you may need to download an app. Some casinos let you play directly through your mobile browser (via HTML5), while others require you to obtain the app through Google Play (Android), the Apple app store (iOS) or the operator’s website.
One significant benefit of California mobile casinos is that you’ll be able to play from anywhere in the state. You won’t need to visit a land-based venue or sit at a desk and play on a PC or Mac.
Some gamblers prefer to play on a bigger screen. However, most online casino games are perfectly visible on smartphone and tablet screens.
Will California offer live dealer games?
If online casinos are legalized in California, you’ll likely see slots and virtual (software-based) table games hit the market first. However, live dealer gaming shouldn’t be far behind these virtual games.
Live dealer casinos feature a human dealer and real casino tables. If you’re playing blackjack, for example, a real croupier will deal the cards.
Some aspects of these games are generated by software, including the chips and table layout (typical with live roulette). Overall, though, the action is far more real than virtual tables.
The games stream on your smartphone or PC. This setup puts you closer to a land-based casino environment, all without leaving the comfort of your home.
California’s live dealer casinos would probably offer basic games like baccarat, blackjack and roulette in the beginning. They might eventually feature an expanded selection, including casino hold ’em, Caribbean stud and three-card poker.
Benefits of live dealer gaming
The best part of live casinos is that they offer an authentic feel: the dealer, table, cards and equipment are all real.
Live dealer gaming may not entirely replicate the feeling of sitting in a land-based casino, but it’s the next-closest thing when playing on a mobile device or computer.
Another advantage of live dealer games is that they offer a mild social element. You can communicate with the dealer and fellow players through a chat box.
Finally, live gaming serves as the perfect bridge when you’re working up the courage to play land-based table games. The latter can be intimidating, which is why you should consider starting with live dealer casinos.
Downsides of live dealer casinos
One drawback of live gaming is that you can’t always play for free. Some providers force you to bet real money – just like a land-based casino – because they need to pay their dealers.
Another disadvantage is that the stakes are typically higher than in virtual gaming. Live dealer blackjack, for example, often requires between a $5 and $10 minimum bet.
One more downside of live dealer casinos is the limited game selection. Live dealer outfits are costlier operations, which means they can’t offer the same game variety as virtual gaming.
Despite the drawbacks, live dealer casinos are worth trying if you’re looking for a more realistic experience on your mobile device or desktop computer.