California Sports Betting

California sports betting, playca.com

Despite recent efforts, California sports betting has yet to be legalized. The next chance California voters might have to approve a sports betting measure will be 2026. Any successes will depend on tribal gaming leaders, commercial sportsbook operators, and other interested parties coming together to agree on a viable initiative.

Meanwhile, those in California have options for making sports picks online, including via social sportsbooks like Fliff and other fantasy sports sites.

Here, we give you a complete rundown of California sports betting, including information about those current options and a look ahead at what might become available in the future. 

Current online sports betting options in California

While real money sports betting is not allowed in California, the following social sportsbooks operating in California offer sports fans an alternative way to bet online. (Note: If you are viewing this page from a state with real money sportsbooks, you will see those listed below.)

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Latest news and updates

Updated June 12, 2024

  • California tribes intend to support retail-only sports betting legislation in 2026. Indian Gaming Association Conference Chair Victor Rocha indicated as much in late March, pointing toward the possibility of a 2028 launch of sportsbooks at CA tribal casinos.
  • Meanwhile, in the ongoing sports betting scandal involving Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, last week the New York Times reported Mizuhura is negotiating a guilty plea to federal crimes for allegedly stealing over $16 million from Ohtani.
  • Tucupita Marcano, a former Padres infielder, received the first lifetime ban from baseball for betting on his own team since Pete Rose was banned indefinitely in 1989.

Social sportsbooks in California

Those in California wanting to make sports picks online have an option in social sportsbooks. These play-for-fun sites like the Fliff Social Sportsbook and others invite users to make predictions regarding upcoming games with no purchase required. In some cases, you can even redeem winnings for cash prizes.

Fliff, for example, offers two ways to make sports picks. You can choose Social Play where you use Fliff Coins to make your picks. Fliff Coins have no cash value and you can receive them for signing up and in other ways, including winning more of them. You can purchase additional Fliff Coins as well, but there is no requirement that you do.

You can also acquire Fliff Cash with which you can make Promotional Play picks. You cannot purchase Fliff Cash, but you can receive it as a bonus when you buy Fliff Coins or via other methods. However you can later redeem winnings that you accumulate in Promotional Play for cash prizes. Fliff covers a range of sports, including baseballbasketball, football, hockey, tennis, golf, soccer, and MMA, among others.

Daily fantasy sports options in California

While real money sports betting is illegal in California, playing real money daily fantasy sports is permitted. In fact, in some cases DFS can often feel pretty similar to sports betting, especially with certain DFS contests that feel a lot like parlays.

DraftKings and FanDuel dominate the DFS landscape with DraftKings DFS and FanDuel DFS. But other up-and-coming operators are trying to carve out a niche, too.

Examples of such apps that are live in California include Underdog Fantasy, Sleeper, and Betr Picks, each of which offer fantasy sports features that resemble placing parlay bets in traditional sports betting.

Snapshot of California sports betting

Here’s a quick look at some key elements of the California sports betting landscape.

Is sports betting legal in California?

No, not at present. Neither real money online sportsbooks or retail sportsbooks are available in California, unlike the state’s neighbors Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. However, you can make sports picks online in California at social sportsbooks such as Fliff and also at fantasy sports sites. These sites are free to play and in some cases offer chances at redeeming prizes for cash. 

When will California sports betting be legalized?

It’s hard to know for sure. At the absolute earliest, California sports betting could go live in 2027 for in-person sports betting, an online launch, or both. For that to happen, hopes would rest on an initiative making it onto the 2026 ballot and then voters approving it. 

What CA sports betting apps can people expect?

Which online sports betting apps launch in California depends on whichever ballot initiative eventually passes. Reasonably the state could handle a dozen or more platforms if allowed. Caesars, FanDuel, BetMGM, Bet365, DraftKings and other top sites would almost certainly be among the first operators to launch in California if an online sports betting initiative passes.

What is the legal age for sports betting in California?

You likely will need to be 21 years of age or older to participate in real money sports betting should it come to California. Be aware, however, that the minimum age is 18 years for most social sportsbooks and fantasy sports sites available in California.

What happened the last time California tried to legalize sports betting?

Back in 2022, Prop 26 and Prop 27 invited California voters to weigh in on a pair of sports betting options on the Nov. ballot. However, both propositions failed.

Prop 26 would have legalized sports betting at California tribal casinos and select horse racing venues. Meanwhile, Prop 27 offered an online sports betting option and was backed by industry heavyweights such as DraftKings and FanDuel. Prop 26 was backed by a coalition of California Native American tribes, and it also would have allowed tribal casinos to offer dice and roulette games. However, when operators succeeded in getting Prop 27 on the ballot, tribal efforts were instead concentrated on defeating that measure, rather than passing their own.

More than $458 million was spent on campaigns for and against these initiatives, making it the most expensive ballot initiative contest in United States history. Ultimately, both measures were not just defeated, but crushed. More than 67% of voters rejected Prop 26, and a whopping 82% said no to Prop 27.

What’s next for California sports betting?

At this time, California is still several steps away from launching sports betting. Two sports betting initiatives were proposed in late 2023 in what would have been another attempt to put them on the Nov. ballot in 2024. Both were somewhat misleadingly described as “Tribal Sports Betting” initiatives by their sponsors, even though the tribes were opposed to them. The issue became moot, however, when the sponsors announced in late Jan. 2024 they would not be pursuing the effort any further. 

With nothing happening in 2024, sports betting proponents must look ahead to 2026 for another try at building enough support among the interested parties and California voters to legalize some form of sports betting. The tribes appear interested in a retail-only option with some leaders having already indicated an intention to get an initiative on the 2026 ballot that would enable CA tribes to open in-person sportsbooks in their casinos. It seems fair to assume that given the overwhelming failure of the 2022 propositions, the next attempt to legalize sports betting will be approached with great circumspection (and a lot of preliminary negotiating as well).

Potential California online sportsbooks

If California legalizes online sports betting, many of the top names in the industry will likely make their way to the state. Here are some of the top online sportsbooks that could become available:

Caesars Sportsbook

Caesars Sportsbook is available as a top choice in many states where it offers a great variety of sports betting opportunities under the world-famous brand. Caesars has terrific market coverage and frequent promotions adding bet boosts to your same game parlays and more. Users also get to participated in the renowned Caesars Rewards program through which they accumulate credits every time they bet.


 

FanDuel Sportsbook

Another company that initially made its mark as a daily fantasy sports provider, the FanDuel Sportsbook app is notable due to its live betting and live streaming options. The biggest factor that sets it apart is its user-friendly navigation, which makes it easy to find the information you need. The app also made a name for itself early on with its popular Same Game Parlays, which would no doubt lead FanDuel California to a significant share of the state’s market.


 

BetMGM Sportsbook

BetMGM Sportsbook represents the casino giant MGM Resorts International with a long and diverse list of sports on which to bet ranging from the the most popular sports like basketball, baseball, football, and hockey to more esoteric options like Gaelic sports. BetMGM offers lots of promos like odds boosts and users also like the “Edit My Bet” feature that lets you adjust some wagers after making them. BetMGM California would no doubt be a big hit were it to launch.


 

DraftKings Sportsbook

DraftKings is a well-known name in California due to its daily fantasy sports site, and DraftKings California would be hugely popular. The online sportsbook is a star, thanks to its long list of sports and innovative app design. A top feature on DraftKings is its betting carousel, which offers a custom list of bets based on your previous activity and the preferences you’ve stated, offering a more personal experience.

Placing bets on California sports teams

California is home to more major professional sports teams than any other state in the country, each with a passionate fan base. Here are the main options for wagering on CA sports teams should legal sports betting of some type become available:

  • Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
  • Angel City FC (NWSL)
  • Golden State Warriors (NBA)
  • LA Galaxy (MLS)
  • Los Angeles Angels (MLB)
  • Los Angeles Chargers (NFL)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
  • Los Angeles FC (MLS)
  • Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
  • Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
  • Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
  • Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA)
  • Oakland Athletics (MLB)
  • Sacramento Kings (NBA)
  • San Diego Padres (MLB)
  • San Diego Wave FC (NWSL)
  • San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
  • San Francisco Giants (MLB)
  • San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
  • San Jose Sharks (NHL)

In addition to the plethora of professional teams, California is also home to more Division I colleges and universities than any other state.

California sports betting history

  • In 2017, Assemblymember Adam Gray tried and failed to introduce a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in the event that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned.
  • In 2018, the US Supreme Court did overturn PASPA, but California was unable to revisit the issue until the following year.
  • In 2019, Gray and Sen. Bill Dodd each proposed bills in their respective state chambers to include a ballot question about legalizing sports betting. Tribes introduced a different initiative designed to limit legal sports betting to tribal casinos and racetracks. That plan was thwarted, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the tribes from being able to gather the necessary signatures to secure a place on the 2020 ballot.
  • Meanwhile, Gray and Dodd continued to pursue their bills, adding details authorizing tribal casinos and racetracks to offer both retail and online sports betting while also offering some legal support for California card rooms. The tribes objected to that latter idea and refused to support the bills.
  • By June 2020, Dodd and Gray withdrew their legislation, as it was clear it would not advance in time to meet the deadline to make that year’s November ballot.
  • That led to the 2022 election. As described above, a pair of sports betting initiatives (Prop 26 and Prop 27) were soundly defeated at the ballot box that Nov. 
  • Two more sports betting initiatives were introduced as well for the 2024 ballot that would have authorized CA tribes to offer both in-person and online sports betting. However, the initiatives’ sponsors halted their efforts abruptly in Jan. 2024, meaning there will be no vote on sports betting in 2024.
  • In Mar. 2024, California tribal leaders began indicating an intention to back an initiative in 2026 to legalize retail sportsbooks in tribal casinos.
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