California Gambling Sites - A Guide to Gambling In California

California is the most populous state in America, with almost 40 million people living there.

California is sometimes portrayed as having a vacation lifestyle and being carefree. Because of this, it's hard to believe that any casinos other than tribal ones are prohibited. They also have strict laws regarding race betting, slot machines and other forms of gambling.

One type of gambling that's completely legal in California, though, is online gambling.

You can learn everything you need to know about California gambling sites on this page.

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Online Gambling and California Law

Is Online Gambling Legal in California?

Yes, online gambling is legal in California.

In fact, California laws don't prohibit, regulate, or ban any type of online gambling. You can feel free to play on any online casino and enjoy your favorite casino or card games that you can't find in the state.

The only law regarding online gambling in California is the age limit. You must be 21 years or older to legally gamble online.

Can I Get Arrested for Gambling Online in California?

No, but starting an online casino or gambling business in California is illegal - you can definitely get arrested for that.

You can also be arrested if you don't pay taxes on revenue earned from any online gambling you do.

If you're just a player and not an owner, and if you pay your taxes, you're in the clear.

More Gambling Laws in California

  • Casino Games (Legal)
  • Slot Machines (Illegal)
  • Sports Betting (Legal)
  • Racing Betting (Parimutuel Only)
  • Lottry (Legal)
  • Bingo (Legal With Restrictions)
  • Draw Poker (Legal With Restrictions)
  • Social Gambling (Illegal)

Section 19801 of The Gambling Control Act says:

"(a)State law prohibits commercially operated lotteries, banked or percentage games, and gambling machines, and strictly regulates parimutuel wagering on horse racing. To the extent that state law categorically prohibits certain forms of gambling and prohibits gambling devices, nothing herein shall be construed, in any manner, to reflect a legislative intent to relax those prohibitions.

(b)The State of California has permitted the operation of gambling establishments for more than 100 years. Gambling establishments were first regulated by the State of California pursuant to legislation which was enacted in 1984. Gambling establishments currently employ more than 20,000 people in the State of California, and contribute more than one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) in taxes and fees to California's government. Gambling establishments are lawful enterprises in the State of California, and are entitled to full protection of the laws of this state."

Casino games: Legal


California only allows tribal casinos. The tribal casinos usually offer poker, blackjack, bingo, keno, video poker and slot machines.

Card rooms are allowed in California. These are different from casinos because players bet against each other and not the house. These establishments make their money by charging players a fee to play. This often takes the form of a 5% contribution from each pot, which is called the rake.

Card rooms are state regulated, and offer games like poker and pai gow.

Here's what the State of California Department of Justice says about card rooms:

"All controlled games (pai-gow, poker, etc.) and gaming activities (jackpots, bonuses, tournaments, etc.) must be approved by the Bureau and must comply with local gaming ordinances prior to their play at a licensed gambling establishment within California."

Slot Machines: Illegal


Slot machines are illegal to own unless they're antiques. Antique slot machines must be over 25 years old, and must not be used for real money gambling.

Here's what section 330.7 of the California Law, Regulations, Resource Information says about antique slot machines:

"(a) It shall be a defense to any prosecution under this chapter relating to slot machines, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 330b, if the defendant shows that the slot machine is an antique slot machine and was not operated for gambling purposes while in the defendant's possession. For the purposes of this section, the term "antique slot machine" means a slot machine that is over 25 years of age."

Sports betting: Legal


Betting on sports in California is legal, but accepting bets on sports or bookmaking is illegal.

Here's what section 337a of the Penal Code says about bookmaking:

"Except as provided in Section 336.9, every person who engages in one of the following offenses, shall be punished for a first offense by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year or in the state prison, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both imprisonment and fine:

(1)Pool selling or bookmaking, with or without writing, at any time or place."

Online sports betting is legal in California. No legal sports book in the United States takes bets online because of the Federal Wire Act. But you can find plenty of online sports books who would be happy to take your action from California. We suggest several trustworthy offshore California gambling sites. You can play at any of them with confidence.

Racing betting: Parimutuel Only


What is parimutuel betting?

It's when player's bets are put together in a pool, the taxes and track fees are deducted and the pool is then divided among the winning players.

Here's what section 19590 of the Business and Professions Code says about wagering on horse racing:

"The board shall adopt rules governing, permitting, and regulating parimutuel wagering on horse races under the system known as the parimutuel method of wagering. Parimutuel wagering shall be conducted only by a person or persons licensed under this chapter to conduct a horse racing meeting or authorized by the board to conduct advance deposit wagering."

Dog racing is illegal in the state of California.

Lottery: Legal


California has a state regulated lottery that provides a variety of games. A few of these games include SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions.

Here's what section 8880.1 of the California Government Code says about the lottery:

"The People of the State of California declare that the purpose of this Act is support for preservation of the rights, liberties and welfare of the people by providing additional monies to benefit education without the imposition of additional or increased taxes. The People of the State of California further declare that it is their intent that the net revenues of the California State Lottery shall not be used as substitute funds but rather shall supplement the total amount of money allocated for public education in California."

Bingo: Tribal Casinos and Charitable Games Only


You can find regular gambling bingo in approved tribal casinos.

You won't find regular bingo halls in California--the only approved bingo is when played for charity. Charitable bingo games can only be held once per year, and no cash prizes can be given out.

Here's what section 19985 of The Gambling Control Act says about nonprofit organization fundraisers:

"(a)Nonprofit organizations provide important and necessary services to the people of the State of California with respect to educational and social services and there is a need to provide methods of fundraising to nonprofit organizations so as to enable them to meet their stated purposes.

(b)The playing of controlled games for the purpose of raising funds by nonprofit organizations is in the public interest.

(c)Uniform regulation for the conduct of controlled games is in the best interests of nonprofit organizations and the people of this state."

Social Gambling: Illegal


Illegal forms of gambling in California include:

  • Faro
  • Monte
  • Roulette
  • Lansquenet
  • Rouge et noire
  • Rondo
  • Tan
  • Fan-tan
  • Seven-and-a-half
  • Twenty-one
  • Hokey-pokey

If you're caught betting in any of these games you can end up paying $1,000 in fines and spending six months in jail.

Here's what section 330 of the California Gambling Law, Regulations, and Resource Information says about illegal forms of gambling and the punishment for it:

"Every person who deals, plays, or carries on, opens, or causes to be opened, or who conducts, either as owner or employee, whether for hire or not, any game of faro, monte, roulette, lansquenet, rouge et noire, rondo, tan, fan-tan, seven-and a-half, twenty-one, hokey-pokey, or any banking or percentage game played with cards, dice, or any device, for money, checks, credit, or other representative of value, and every person who plays or bets at or against any of those prohibited games, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punishable by a fine not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by both the fine and imprisonment."

Draw Poker: Legal With Restrictions


California counties that have more than 4 million residents prohibit draw poker.

Here's what section 337 of the California Law, Regulations, and Resource Information says about it:

"(a) This section applies only in counties with a population exceeding 4,000,000. (b) Every person who deals, plays, or carries on, opens, or causes to be opened, or who conducts, either as owner or employee, whether for hire or not, any game of draw poker, including lowball poker, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(e) The Legislature finds that in counties with a large, concentrated population, problems incident to the playing of draw poker are, in part, qualitatively, as well as quantitatively, different from the problems in smaller counties. The Legislature finds that counties with a population exceeding 4,000,000 constitute a special problem, and it is reasonable classification to adopt prohibitory legislation applicable only to such counties."

Gambling Venues in California

65 active tribal casinos and 94 gaming establishments or card rooms operate in California.

Here are some of the current tribal casinos in the state:

1. Win-River Casino

2100 Redding Rancheria Road

Redding, California 96001-5530

2. Winnedumah Winn's Casino

135 South Highway 395

Independence, California 93526

3. Table Mountain Casino

8184 Table Mountain Road

Friant, California 93626 800-541-3637

4. Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino

17225 Jersey Avenue

Lemoore, California 93245-9760

5. San Pablo Lytton Casino

13255 San Pablo Ave

San Pablo, CA 94806

6. Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino

25575 Highway 79 PO Box 600

Santa Ysabel, California 92070

7. Red Fox Casino & Bingo

200 Cahto Drive

Laytonville, California 95454

8. Red Hawk Casino

1 Red Hawk Boulevard

Placerville , CA 95667

9. Paiute Palace Casino

2742 North Sierra Highway

Bishop, California 93514

10. Pala Casino Spa Resort

11154 Highway 76

Pala, California 92059

History of Gambling in California

Timeline Header Image
California Horse Racing Legality

Horse race betting becomes legal at six tracks and many offtrack betting establishments.

1933

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act helps bring casino gambling business to California by forming compacts with over 50 tribes. The tribes start their casinos with bingo-style games.

1988
Horse Racing Betting Online in California

Horse race betting online is officially legalized for California residents.

2010

Another attempt to regulate online poker is put before the California Senate. They fail again.

2014
California State Lottery

The state lottery is legalized.

1984

Casino gambling is fully legalized on tribal land. Individual compacts are formed with each tribe to agree on the type and number of games the casinos can run.

2000

Attempts to regulate online poker are put before the California Senate. They fail.

2012

Additional Resources

California's Gambling Future

Brick and mortar establishments are pushing heavily for state regulated online gambling. Because of the large population, having state regulated gambling would allow huge online tournaments and promotions at California gambling sites.

One setback of the state regulated online gambling is the tribal casinos. The tribal casinos have run casino gambling in California for years, so they want to be responsible for online gambling too.

Aside from regulating online gambling, we don't foresee much change in the California gambling law. You can find plenty of casinos and card rooms throughout the state. The state lottery and horse racing venues aren't going anywhere soon, either.

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