Welcome to the California gambling guide, outlining the online gambling laws, legislation and governance, and well as land based options. California – the Golden State – has one of the most liberal gambling laws in the country, and thus has plenty of online gambling. Among them include online casinos, sports betting sites and online bingo.
To top it off, California is huge! The largest state in the US, it has an abundance of land based options. Whilst sports betting has yet to become legalized, horse betting is offered.
[as a side note: with the US Elections concluding, you can read in the California Gambling Market Developments of this page, how Kamala Harris influenced gaming laws as the Attorney General]
There are many real money online gambling opportunities in California. They don’t often come to mind, because the operators are offshore based. This is because the State laws explicitly do not permit local onshore operators. The laws however, do not prohibit nor declare as legal wagering from California residents.
- Offshore operators accept players from California.
- Online gaming onshore operators are prohibited in California but it is not clear as to whether wagering is unlawful.
- There are no State regulated online onshore operators
- The California State Lottery has a monopoly through an exclusive license regarding sales and distribution of lottery products. The lottery participates in mult-jurisdictional lottery such as Powerball and Mega Millions.
- Native tribes are permitted to operate commercial casinos.
- Card venues defined as casinos with no slot machines are allowed to operate commercially.
- Bingo is allowed to operate on commercially.
Best 5 California Online Casinos
If you are looking for the best real money online casinos in California, then consider our recommended list:
|1||El Royale Casino||
250% up to $12,500Welcome Bonus
100% up to $3,000Welcome Bonus
|3||Vegas Casino Online||
400% up to $10,000Welcome Bonus
220% up to $12,000Welcome Bonus
|5||Red Dog Casino||
225% up to $12,250Welcome Bonus
Our recommended list of online casinos is created through personally playing and vetting the most popular casinos for Californians. We have used several criteria to assess each of them and then rank them.
The criteria that we have used, are common factors that all player should regard as important for a great playing experience.
We therefore included safety and security, customer support, payment methods, gaming selection and bonuses among the criteria to judge a top online casino.
🔒 Safety and Security
Online casinos need to be safe and secure in the best interest of their players. Safety just doesn’t mean that an online casino honours the true winnings of a player, but it also includes the protection of the players transactions, personal information and prevention of internet viruses. All online casinos must have SSL technology (which most declare on their sites) as a minimum the security to prevent cyber attacks. Our recommended online casinos all have the latest internet security to keep you safe.
📞 Customer Support
You never know when the day will come when you will need Customer Support. Many players overlook the fact that, even though online gaming is intuitive, there will be a time when a technology issue may arise, or a processing query needs to be resolved. What ever the need maybe, it’s vital that there is prompt and responsive Customer Support. Our vetted online casinos all have excellent Customer Support through various channels. They include email, instant chat messaging and some also have a telephone hot line.
💳 Payment Methods
Payment methods need to be common and trusted methods that you can easily use. There’s no point with an online casino offering the latest and newest digital e-wallet, when it can be faulty, inefficient and just plain dangerous. Our recommended casinos all offer Credit Cards – VISA, MasterCard and some with Amex, Bitcoin (BTC), Instant Gift Cards, direct wire transfers and Neosurf.
🎰 Game Selection
It’s important to choose an online casino that hosts your favorite games. In particular slot games revolve around excellent themes, and if you have a favorite, then make sure that it is available or at the very least one that is similar. Not all online casinos can offer the same slot themes that can be found at land based venues (due to patent laws). Having said that, there are some good quality themes that can only be found online line. Software gaming developers have honed in their skills of creating excellent games. The well known names include RealTime Gaming and Scientific Labs.
It goes without saying that bonuses are very important in selecting an online casino. Bonuses can be a tricky criteria to assess, because not all bonuses can be applied to all games. As an example, if you are a slot fans then some of the bonuses will not be applicable. In particular, if you are only interested in Live Dealer games for blackjack, roulette and other casino games, then be aware that most of the time bonuses will not be applicable. If in doubt, make sure you check the terms and conditions of the bonuses at the site of the online casinos, or ask them through their Customer Support.
Having said that, we have listed the biggest bonuses available from reputable online casinos for Californians (taking into account the other criteria).
CA Live Casinos with Live Dealers
Many players love to go to the casino tables and play with real human dealers. There are many reasons, which include social interactions and the comfort of knowing that the odds are fair and real. Well guess what, many online casinos now also off Live Dealers streamed through to your playing device. So you can experience exactly the same atmosphere online as if you were at a land based venue. And it can be even better, because you can often choose the gender of the dealer – male or female, native language and/or the ethnic background.
Again, we want you to be aware, that bonuses may not be applicable to Live Dealer games. If in doubt, check with the online casino Terms and Conditions.
Read more: Live Casino Guide
California Casinos 18+
Online casinos have the ability to set their own minimum age limits. Some are 18 and others are 21. This is exactly the same as what can be found with land based casinos in California. The State Law has declared that the minimum legal age for gambling is 18, however reasons such as alcohol being served on the premises has set the minimum age to be 21 for some land base casinos. (Unfortunately this applies to all California cities from Los Angeles, San Diego through to Anaheim).
When gambling online, the minimum age can be confusing. In general most online casinos will set the minimum age to the the higher of either: their own minimum age and the players’ residing US State legal minimum age.
In this case it can also be 18 or 21 to play at a California online casino. If you are in doubt whether you are legally accepted to play at an online casino check with the terms and conditions of the site.
Below is a list of casinos that are 18+
|California Casinos with minimum legal age 18|
|Chicken Ranch Casino|
|Eagle Mountain Casino|
|Gold Country Casino|
|Golden Acorn Casino|
|Lucky Bear Casino|
|Morongo Casino Resort|
|Red Fox Casino|
|Table Mountain Casino|
Online Casino Hacks
You may be just getting started with enjoying the gaming experience online. It may seem really easy to sign up and play, which it is, but we just want to point out a few hacks that will help you along the way. Some are really obvious (and that’s great if you already know them), some can be unknown and obscure. In any event, if you find that little bit of guidance to help you along the way, then it’s a bonus!
Hack 1 – Don’t chase your losses
This hack can apply to any casino game. Yes, it’s easy to get carried away with gaming, and in particular online gaming. Therefore, if you have a loss don’t try and make up for it with a huge all in bet in the next round. Keep to the minimum wager and play for time. We all know that overall the house has the winning edge. Pay out ratios will always be in favor of the casino, but this doesn’t mean you should try and win it all back in one go. Stretch it out, have fun and keep playing!
Hack 2 – Check the Bonus Terms and Conditions
This is particularly important if you plan on playing Live Dealer games and slots. Some bonuses will not apply to these types of games, and if they do there may be extraneous terms and conditions you need to be aware of. Wagering Requirements should also be taken note of, because we guarantee you that you have a chance of winning a big jackpot. If you do so with a bonus, then you need to meet wager requirements before you can withdraw your winnings.
So be familiar with Online Casino Bonus Terms and Conditions.
Hack 3 – Pace yourself
Playing online is super easy and super convenient. You can play for hours on end – I know, because I did it when playing blackjack. It was great fun, but don’t let it dictate your life. Have a break or slow down the pace. It’s important to take time out and enjoy gaming for what it is.
Hack 4 – Don’t use credit cards
This is our general rule. And no, it doesn’t have to be applied to everyone. But we don’t recommend using credit to deposit. Why? Because borrowing is not a good idea. You want to play within your means, and not stretch your finance. I understand for many of you, this will not be a problem and credit cards are very simple and easy to use. For others, it may not be the case, so don’t use credit cards and stick with other forms as the payment method.
Top 3 California Online Bingo Sites
California Bingo Legality
California allows for real money bingo games in commercially operated bingo halls. Prior to the events of 2020, bingo was making a huge comeback from the depths of being outdated. Bingo was struggling to keep members for a while, because it was seen as a slow older generation game. But it soon began to draw the younger generation, in particular young women who wanted a softer form of gambling combined with a social aspect.
Rising in popularity is the form of online bingo. Even more compatible with the younger generation, the social media commonality makes online bingo a fun game to play, and to meet others. Bingo has excellent little prizes. Look, admittedly you won’t retire when winning a bingo game, but for many players it’s more than just winning a bingo game, it’s about playing a fun game, daubing numbers and chatting with friends.
California Sports Betting Sites
In June 2018, the Federal law banning sports betting on professional and amateur sports (PASPA) was overturned and thus was the catalyst for each State to review their sports gambling laws and reform them. In California legalising sports betting has yet to eventuate. Sports betting is big business, and because of the many stakeholder in sports betting in the state of California, finding a common ground that is fair for all stakeholders was and always will be difficult. As such, sports betting laws remain unchanged – the explicitly prohibit local operators but remain unclear for offshore.
Accordingly, you will be able to find several offshore sports betting sites that accept California players. The sports betting odds are just as competitive as those that would be found in other states that have legalized, and may even have better bonuses.
California Daily Fantasy Sports
Technically Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is not legal, but then again it is also not illegal. Confused? Well, the PASPA laws that were originally in place to ban sports betting defined sports betting (and any form of betting) as a game of luck, NOT as a game of skill.
Arguably, DFS is a game of skill, and therefore should not be considered as gambling. Thus it is not specifically addressed in California State Gambling Laws.
To be honest, we would have to agree with this statement by many advocates of DFS that it is a game of skill. Because it truly is those with the best statistically modelling and access to particular information that will always win.
Many new DFS players are unaware that they have very little chance of winning. Why? Because they are being pooled in DFS matches that pit them against seasoned DFS players – players who have honed their statistical modelling and purchasing of model data. New players just don’t stand a chance. You may disagree and think, but I’m an expert in my sport, I know the NBA like the back of my hand. And yes, you might, but at the end of the day, it’s not just about knowing the sport, but the modelling of the odds.
In this regard, we do not recommend playing DFS unless you are comfortable with how DFS works, and how those who constantly win operate. Many would say, but online casinos also have an edge. That is true, but at least there is a chance of winning. With DFS, there is almost no chance, because it is a game of skill. Your skill is worse than an experts skill. A good analogy would be to say you can beat Michael Jordan in a game of one on one. Sure, you may have a slim chance if you could nail 10 consecutive three pointers in a row, but what are the chances of that?
Onshore providers of DFS exist and accept Californian players, even though legally it is unclear whether they can or not.
Read More: How to play Daily Fantasy Sports
- Though the government may not approve of online gambling, it is neither prohibited or specifically outlined in State laws.
- State laws allows for the establishment of the State Lottery.
- Native American Casinos, race tracks and card rooms are permitted under State law
- One form of online gambling permitted under state law is pari-mutel horse wagering through advanced deposit wagering (ADW).
- Private and commercially operated lotteries and gambling machines operations are illegal under state law.
Minimum Legal Gambling Age
- 18 for lottery, pari-mutuel betting and bingo (live and online),
- 18-21 for casino and
- 21 for online gambling (casinos, sports betting, poker games and bingo).
California has a range of local taxes that are set within each territory and therefore differ.
The State lottery taxes are required to be directed public education within California (c$1bn per annum).
Tribes pay State government funds for casino activity under the terms agreed in the Tribal-State compact.
Card rooms are licensed under five categories, according to number of tables:
- Tier I, 1-5
- Tier II, 6-10
- Tier III, 11-30
- Tier IV, 31-60
- Tier V, 61+
and pay local taxes ranging from 8-15%; some card rooms pay local taxes based on their revenue.
Players must pay a minimum of 28% tax on winnings.
Regulation and Governance
- California Constitution, Article 4, Section 19
- California Penal Code
- California Gambling Control Act, Business and Professions Code, Division 8, Chapter 5
- California State Lottery Act of 1984
- India Gaming Regulatory Act 1988 (Federal)
- Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
California Gambling Market Developments
- The game of poker is extremely popular within the state
- Nevada and New Jersey-type commercial gaming expressly prohibited under State law
- A number of interactive poker bills have been considered by the state legislature in recent years with senate hearings taking place on the issue
- Many commentators are bullish regarding the prospects for regulated interactive poker in California and as such it is widely tipped as being the likely next US state to regulate interactive gaming
- California’s 56 active gaming tribes constituted the largest Indian casino market in the United States.
The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel launched interactive poker at PrivateTable.com for adults located within California, notwithstanding State legislation prohibiting this activity. The action taken by Santa Ysabel reflected growing consensus of operators over market regulation.
The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel launched added DesertRoseBingo.com
Attorney General Kamala Harris requested a permanent injunction against DesertRoseBingo.com from a US District Court on grounds that the site breaches State law, Federal Law and the Tribe-State compact agreement. The Santa Ysabel maintains they are entitled to operate interactive within their own territory
Iipay Nation issued a counter-suit against the AG’s requested injunction over domain DesertRoseBingo.com. The Tribe stated that the injunction would undermine tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction and that the domain was launched in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
On 2 December 2014, Mike Gatto (California State Assemblyman) introduced a Bill to regulate interactive poker within the State. AB9, The Internet Poker Consumption Act 2015, would permit licensed card-room establishments and State Tribes (recognised under federal law) to apply for tenyear licenses to operate interactive poker. In addition, the Bill would seek to exclude operators, individuals, entities and intellectual property that operated in the market after 31 December 2006. AB9 also contained a ‘bad actor’ clause, specifically aimed at preventing Amaya’s purchase of PokerStars, to circumvent restrictions on operating lawfully within the market. The provision expressed that where a company acquired or purchased a covered asset then that company would be unsuitable to obtain a license. However, subsequent provisions would potentially offer PokerStars grounds for lawful operation, providing Amaya could show ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that PokerStars activity would not adversely affect matters or public policy or interactive regulation within the market;
A coalition of Tribes and poker establishments that have agreements over interactive products with PokerStars issues a formal statement against AB 9. The coalition expressed the Bill was a reintroduction of previous Bills that had failed, which breached principles of fair competition and would deny citizens access to the best available service. The coalition would launch a legal challenge
On 12 December, Judge Anthony Battaglia, US District Court of the Southern District of California issued a temporary restraining against Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel’s interactive system. The Court ordered both parties to confer over the ruling as to whether a full preliminary injunction should be granted. Iipay Nation announced it would continue to offer interactive products through the DesertRoseBingo domain, notwithstanding the terms of the injunction
On 31 December 2014 Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought against it by the State of California in the US District Court for the Southern District of California, claiming the State had failed to prove that subject-matter jurisdiction existed. The motion stated that the tribal sovereign immunity of Defendants barred the State’s claims, and that the State failed to comply with its procedural obligations under the terms of the Tribal-State Compact, under which it is reliant upon in its claims.
Gatto proposed the first amendments to AB9 and announced more would likely follow over the course of the year. The amendment sought to remove the obligation for players to register for an online poker account at a land-based establishment, by making this requirement optional. Gatto cited the security of technology used by commercial operators as the reason for this amendment. Amendments to AB 9 would be introduced in print following a First Committee Hearing. Cnsideration was also being given to the level of sanctions expressed in AB 9 against unlicensed operators
Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer introduced the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015, AB167. This is the second Bill to regulate interactive poker following AB9, which was introduced by Mike Gatto in December 2014. AB167 would regulate interactive poker for players in California over the age of 21 and would authorise card room establishments, tribes and racetracks to apply for commercial licenses. The Bill stipulates a tax rate of 8.5% gross gaming revenue, with an initial deposit fee of $10m; license approval would be subject to a four-year term that is renewable; operators could offer interactive poker games on up to two authorized poker web sites; unlicensed sites would be expressly prohibited from operating interactive gaming in California; and players would be prohibited from engaging in activity on unlicensed sites.
AB167 contained no apparent bad actor clause, though it did stipulate that organisations which had ‘contemptuously defied a legislative investigative body… when that body is engaged in the investigation of crimes relating to poker’ from acquiring a license. The Bill was classified as an urgency statute, which would require a two-thirds majority vote to be passed into law.
Senator Isadore Hall III and Assembly Member Adam Gray (Governmental Organisation Committee chairs), introduced two identical Bills that would specifically authorize interactive poker in CA, complementing the two existing bills. SB278, introduced by Hall and AB431, introduced by Gray,
would permit an interactive poker site to be operated in CA and would require the Gambling Control Commission to work with the California Department of Justice to regulate the activity. Both Bills await official publication. Each Bill was introduced in skeleton form in order to meet the
deadline for the 2015 legislative session.
A six-tribe coalition issued a letter to Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer requesting he withdraw AB167 from the legislative process. The coalition was driven by the Pechenga tribe; and included the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; Barona Band of Mission Indians; Lytton Band of Pomo Indians;
Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians; and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. The letter expressly opposed the omission of a bad actor clause and the provision to allow horse racing associations to apply for and
receive licenses to operate interactive poker.
Four separate hearings on interactive poker were scheduled for the following dates: 22 April 2015, 20 May 2015, 24 June 2015 and 8 July 2015. The first of these is procedural and concerns the provisions of AB431. The second would discuss the ‘Overview of Gambling in California: Legality, Authorization and Regulation). The third meeting is a joint informational hearing between the Assembly and Senate Committees on ‘The Legality of Internet Poker: How prepared is California to Regulate it?’ And the final meeting seeks to determine which of the four bills, if any should be progressed. Only AB9 and AB167 were scheduled for consideration in this meeting, though this could be subject to change going forward;
The first of four separate hearings on interactive poker scheduled for 22 April 2015 was postponed until further notice;
The Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee voted unanimously in favour of progressing ‘Skeleton Bill’ AB431 to the next stage of the legislative process. The core provisions of AB431 were not disclosed and have yet to be amended.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed skeleton bill AB431 by a majority vote of 14-0, with three abstentions. The next stage for the bill is the Assembly Floor, where it would be subject to two further reviews scheduled to take place on 24 June and 8 July 2015.
Amaya Gaming, PokerStars and their land-based affiliates in California formed a Coalition to advocate Responsible Interactive Poker and promote a fair market for future interactive regulation.
The California Supreme Court affirmed a ruling that sweepstakes games at Internet cafes are games of chance, under section 330b of the Business and Professional Code, and therefore unlawful. The ruling upholds the provisions of AB1439, which sought to prohibit such activities from Internet cafes;
Mike Gatto cancelled a hearing on AB9 citing a lack of clear consensus on the issue of interactive poker regulation but reaffirmed the possibility to resuscitate the bill at any time, pursuant to its urgency clause.
Advertising agency Olson secured a five-year contract with the state lottery as its digital agency of record which includes strategic, creative and technological services.
Assemblyman Adam Gray revived his 2015 bill, AB431, which seeks to authorise online poker in the state. Gray introduced a number of amendments to the bill, which include the provision of $60m of funding per year to the state’s racetracks, if they agree to be excluded from the regulated iPoker industry. Another amendment changes the bill’s status to urgent, therefore if it is passed by a two thirds majority in both chambers, it will become effective as soon as it is signed by the governor;
A new bill seeking to authorize online poker, was introduced to the assembly by members Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Adam Gray. AB2863, to be known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act, sets out a framework for the regulation of iPoker, which would be governed by the Gambling Control Commission, with 7-year licenses to be made available to tribal gaming operators and card room operators.
The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act (AB2863), will be discussed in a hearing held by the Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee on 20 April 2016.
The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act received a unanimous vote (18-0) in favour by the Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee. The bill received testimony from a number of industry figures and legislators before going to vote. However, a number of legislators voiced concerns over the bill’s unclear definition of a “bad actor.” The bill’s primary sponsor, Adam Gray, is expected to clarify the language of the bill before it is discussed by the full Assembly.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted in favour of AB2863 after Adam Gray introduced amendments to clarify the bad actor clause. Operators who targeted the state after the passing of UIGEA will have a 5-year lock out period before they can apply for licenses unless they pay a $20m fee which will allow them to apply immediately following regulation.
A decision to rescind the so-called “Lyttle Letter’, which allowed card rooms to stop the rotation of the deal. The new rule for Californian card room operators is that no single person can deal for more than 60 consecutive minutes unless there is a two-minute break in the game each hour;
Online poker bill, AB2863, did not pass before the adjournment of the legislature for 2016 after the Assembly failed to vote on the measure after three readings. A similar bill will be introduced in the first legislative session of 2017.
Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer introduced legislation to allow tribal casinos and cardrooms licensed in the state to offer interactive poker. AB1677 would entrust the regulation of the industry to the Gaming Control Commission and impose a license fee of $12.5m for a seven (7) year permit. Tax would be charged incrementally from 8.85% for annual revenues under $150m up to 15% if annual revenue exceeds $350m.
Caesars Entertainment launched a field trial of skill-based gaming machines at the Harrah’s Resort Southern California. The machines require final regulatory approval before a full roll out can take place in other casinos. The skill-based machines are also on trial in Nevada.
IGT’s wholly-owned subsidiary, IGT Global Solutions Corporation is awarded an extension of seven (7) years (Expiry end of October 2026) to its contract to provide its Aurora system platform to the California Lottery. IGT will supply the lottery with 19,000 new retailer terminals as well on-going
services including support / maintenance of the central system, communications network, 140,000 PoS across 22,000 retailer locations, field services and marketing / research services.
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) approved a range of ‘Alternate Technical Standards’ to allow the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to offer expanded Class II Gaming, such as bingo and poker using mobile devices on reservation lands.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Native Tribes are prohibited under UIGEA from offering any interactive gambling to persons located outside of Indian lands unless the activity is legal across the whole state. The decision was brought following an appeal by the Ilpay Nation tribe after it was blocked from operating online poker and bingo in the state.
The Bureau of Gambling Control (BGC) stated that it planned to rescind game rule approvals for nonnative gaming operators offering games too similar to blackjack, which are only legally offered by native tribes. The BGC would notify the 74 active card rooms within the state and defer enforcement for a specified period of time, to enable each card rooms to prepare for such action.
A US District Court ruled that the current Tribal/State gaming compacts do not grant the tribes exclusive rights to offer card games such as blackjack. The ruling was handed down as a result of a lawsuit brought by a number of tribes against the State in opposition to card rooms offering the games;
The California Supreme Court has given final approval to a planned off reservation tribal casino in Madera County, in a legal dispute going back almost a decade. The new casino is planned to include 2,000 slot machines and 40 table games.