California Gambling Law

California Gambling LawsCalifornian gambling laws have a long tradition dating back all the way to the Gold Rush days of the 1840s-1850s. Today, gambling in California is in good condition. Most Californian residents are no more than a half-hour drive of a card club or tribal California casino. The State boasts Tribal Casinos, poker rooms, a lottery, fantasy sports and superb horse racing facilities.

See the table below for the current legal environments for sports betting laws in California, gambling online in California, online casino laws etc.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker Yes No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes Yes
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

California Gambling Tax Rate

In California, there is a no state tax on gambling winnings.

Large wins, however, may incur Federal taxes.

California Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Casinos 18-21 (Varies)
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18

California Sports Betting Laws

Members of California’s State Legislature and state lawmakers in general have made it no secret that the state is looking to legalize sports betting in California sooner rather than later.

In the 2017-18 fall session of the California Legislature, a bill was passed (ACA 18) in which sports betting would be legalized once the Supreme Court overturned the Federal ban.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision to rule in favor of sports betting, U.S. sports betting laws now offer the Californian lawmakers little to no impediment to legalize the practice.

Californian State lawmakers are committed to the legalization process and adopting the framework for where-and-how Californians can place wagers on their favorite sports.

Sports Betting in California

Despite the May 2018 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court (when betting on sports became legal in the U.S. at the Federal level), California still has no legal land-based sportbooks at this early stage of the legalization process.

New Jersey led the fight to allow sports betting and they put regulations in place and began sports betting within weeks of the Supreme Court ruling, California, on the other hand, is only beginning the process that is required for state regulatory approval and may not vote on the measure before 2020.

It is anticipated that the likely-scenario for legal online sports betting in California is legislative approval in 2019 followed by inclusion on a ballot in 2020.

Sports Betting Online

Sports Betting Online is currently prohibited in California, but state lawmakers are steadily working towards legalization. In fact, its is the willingness of California to take up online gambling laws (the state is also considering online poker sites) that is leading the sports betting charge.

Unlike many states which are looking to introduce sports betting firstly through Commercial or Tribal land-based Casinos, California is leading the pack in considering sports gambling online as its dominant gateway.

While the state has not yet ruled for online casinos in California, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and online horse & greyhound racing betting are completely legal, whilst it is also possible to play the California State Lottery online.

Casinos in California

Being a progressive state in terms of its casino gaming culture, there is a vast choice in California’s casinos (the state’s casinos are exclusively on Tribal lands having been approved in the year 2000) covering slots and table games. Note, craps and roulette are not allowed in California (ball and dice games have specific prohibitions), although some casinos get around this by instituting hybrid rules using cards.

California’s Land-based Casinos

Between the state’s card clubs and Tribal Casinos, there are more than 170 casinos for California’s residents and its many visitors to choose from. Over 86000 slots and gaming machines are on offer, and minimum bets are as low as $0.01 to as high as a $5000 maximum in California’s Casinos.

Online Casino Laws in California

While there are no specific laws in California online casinos laws relating specifically to the legal status of casinos online in California, all online casino options are considered illegal under current general guidelines in the state.

Don’t be fooled by the many recommendation sites into accepting that the many off-shore online casinos are legal for play in California. They are not.

We advise all potential online casino players in the state to obey the implicit interpretation of the California gambling laws that online casinos are considered to be illegal.

With the exceptions of legal DFS games, lottery and horse & greyhound racing, (and possibly soon online poker, see ‘Online Poker Laws in California’ below), other online gambling options are still illegal in California until deemed otherwise.

Horse Racing Betting in California

Horse Racing Betting (Horse racing in California is administered by the California Horse Racing Board – CHRB) for residents of the state of California and its visitors.

Horse racing wagers can be made on live races, at off-track betting facilities and online, and as a result, all of the popular horse and dog racing betting websites that operate across the United States have a presence in the state of California.

Track Side: Five racetracks operate across California allow for real money wagering for players. In addition, California is also home to state-and-county-fairs that hold races at various times each year, where race betting is also perfectly legal.

Off-Track Betting (OTB): California is one of the most well-developed States-of-the-Union in terms of off-track betting bureaus (OTBs) with an extensive network of more than 100 outlets where it is possible to place a wager on horse-and-greyhound racing. Betting on races in California, most major racing locations worldwide and across the United States are all available.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in California

In California, as horse racing is one of the only three forms of legal online betting in the largest state economy in the United States, it is no surprise that all the major U.S. online horse racing betting sites operate in the state. All customers from the state of California can place real money bets online on horse racing (Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby etc.) 100% legally.

California’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) have been determined by U.S. Federal legislators to be fully-exempt from any Federal gambling bans. This is because at the Federal level, DFS is determined to be contest of skill, rather than a gambling game of random chance.

In 2015, California was one of the first states to propose legislating on the legality of DFS competitions by introducing Bill AB 1437 into the State Legislature for debate and consideration. To September 2018, there has been little-to-no advance in the passing of the bill. Note, the bill does not exactly legalize DFS competitions, it sets the regulations by which DFS sites would need to adhere to.

While we are awaiting the Californian Attorney-General to announce on AB 1437 is in the positive and that DFS sites are legal-and-regulated, for the time-being in California, DFS sites continue to operate and accept Californian players for their real money contests.

How do DFS Competitions Work?

 DFS Competitions are a very different format of sports betting to the traditional forms for a-win-or-a-loss or to cover a points spread. In a DFS competition, you need to stay within a virtual salary cap which is then used for you to ‘spend’ on players for your DFS team.

In DFS betting, you essentially become a ‘virtual team manager’, and must keep to your assigned budget, all-the-while making decisions on your player choices.

If you wish to ‘buy’ the best quarterback in the NFL, you’ll need to spend a significant percentage of your salary-cap on a single-star-player. New England’s Tom Brady or Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers are no bargain basement performers, so you’ll need to pay out plenty to draft star choices like those into your team. DFS teams usually feature consistent ‘journeymen’ performers rather than superstar athletes on monster salaries.

Your DFS team’s real-life counterparts collect stats (TDs, receipts, rushing yards, sacks etc.) in the real-world sports events and as such, your fantasy league team accumulates points online.

Usually, champion DFS players are superb ‘budget balancers’ and can squeeze the most points out of every penny that they ‘spend’ on players.

Major U.S. sporting leagues all have DFS leagues running throughout the regular season and play-offs. Huge daily prizes of more than $1 million per league can potentially paid out to winners of each daily or sometimes weekly DFS competition.

Poker Laws in California

California has the most developed ‘Poker Room Culture’ in the United States. There are more than 40 Poker Rooms (or ‘Card Clubs’ as they are colloquially known as in the Golden State). The State’s residents are never usually more than 20-minutes-drive from their nearest ‘card club’ and more than 1300 tables are available at Poker Rooms throughout California.

With that kind of poker culture, it’s hardly surprising that the state has the most poker variations outside of Vegas including; Pineapple Poker, Omaha Hi-Lo, Limit Hold’em, No Limit Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, 7 Card Stud, and many others.

Online Poker Laws in California

With an advanced Poker Culture in California, it is no wonder that the state’s lawmakers are leading-the-way as proponents of Online Poker.

Whilst Online Poker is still illegal in California, it seems it is-only-a-matter-of-time until online poker is legalized. There has been a new online poker legalization bill introduced into the Californian State Legislature each year since 2007.

Assembly Bill 2291 was introduced in February 2014 and has gone through several stages of amendments as the lawmakers look to perfect the Bill they require to find in favor of legal Californian online poker. Once passed, with 38 million Californians and an existing land-based-Poker-Culture, online poker will no doubt be a huge success in the Golden State.

eSports Betting in California

Legalized sports betting markets worldwide already offer a range of betting markets on all the major eSports tournaments. When sports betting becomes legal in California, eSports betting will become a new fun-and-fascinating way for players to win and a driver of economic prosperity-and-development.

What are ‘eSports’?

eSports’ (short for electronic-sports), has transformed video game play at its highest-level into a full-time professional sport played in packed stadiums where champion players sign multi-million-dollar contracts to compete for glory. Interestingly, rather than competing for individual honors, eSports are usually played by teams and in tournament formats.

The collection of games themselves in the overarching concept of eSports are roughly equivalent to different sports types. In eSports, the games, Fortnite and Starcraft compare to NFL and NBA for example.

Betting on eSports is growing enormously in popularity and the amounts wagered on eSports is experiencing exponential growth each year. Sportsbooks worldwide offer a range of betting markets and tournaments have been transformed into global betting events with the advent of live streaming technology.

Stay tuned for updates on sports betting becoming legalized in California soon, to enjoy legal eSports betting in the Golden State ASAP.

Benefits of Legal Gambling to California

  • Legal Gambling is a source of additional state income and provides the state of California tax funds for better infrastructure-and-services for residents.
  • A regulated legal framework allows Californians to gamble in protected-and-safe environments monitored by government controllers.
  • Legal Californian gambling keeps children safe, with strict sign-up and account creation processes. Fewer consumer protections exist with offshore sites.
  • Future Californian online gambling will create jobs in technology, security, and customer services.
  • Legal Californian gambling increases the overall popularity, leading to more players at land-based card rooms and casinos.

History of Gambling in California

1933 – Racetracks first open for business in California.

1984 – State Lottery created.

2000 – Tribal Casinos created with full casino gambling legalized on Native American lands.

2010 – Online Horse Racing Betting Introduced.

2012-14 – Various Online Poker legalization bills debated by State’s lawmakers including Assembly Bill 2291

2017 – A bill was passed (ACA 18) in which sports betting would be legalized once the Supreme Court overturned the Federal ban (i.e. May 2018).

2018-2020? – California lawmakers debate and adopt legal sports betting?



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