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Legal Betting in California

If you plan to do any legal betting in the state of California, then you will have to travel to the various casinos and racetracks located throughout the state. All forms of online gambling are currently illegal in the state of California, but that could be about to change if certain lawmakers get their way.

If you plan to do any legal betting in the state of California, then you will have to travel to the various casinos and racetracks located throughout the state. All forms of online gambling are currently illegal in the state of California, but that could be about to change if certain lawmakers get their way.

Online Sports Betting California

There have been several attempts to legalize sports betting in the state of California, but none of those bills ever really went anywhere. The Tribal Casinos in California are also working to pass an initiative to be able to offer bets on live sports at their locations throughout the state. The Native American tribes appear to have the best chance to get something approved.

Assemblyman Adam Gray was the first person to introduce a sports betting bill in California back in 2016. The bill was filed by Gray that year, but it didn’t gain any traction. A year later, he introduced ACA 18 in an effort to pass a constitutional amendment legalizing sports betting in the state. Again, his efforts went nowhere, and it wasn’t taken for a vote.

Native American tribes have recently created an initiative to get the topic of sports betting on the ballot in November. The California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative must get close to 1 million votes by June 25 for the issue to be placed on the ballot.

If it passes, all sports betting would have to be done on-site at Native American casinos. That would eliminate the possibility of online sports betting becoming legal in California.

Online Casinos California

There are 69 Native American casinos in the state of California. Outside of those casinos, there are no California online casino sites currently present in the state. There have been efforts made to introduce California casino sites, but the Native American Tribes have too much at stake to allow that to happen.

The Native American Tribes that currently run and operate the 65 casinos in the state would love the opportunity to launch an online site, but state law does not allow for that to happen. All bets must be made in-person at the casino, and no action can be taken online. 

State law does not prohibit anyone in the state from gambling online, but they do prohibit the  running of an online casino. There have been some minor efforts to change these laws in the state of California, but the California Constitution would have to be amended. This would take a two-thirds yes vote by the registered voters in the state.

Online Poker California

Poker is legal in the state of California as long as it is played at one of the tribal casinos that are regulated. Poker games and card rooms date back to the 1940s, but California law now strictly prohibits playing poker from anywhere other than in a tribal casino.

California online poker laws are a little bit confusing, but currently, there are no laws that allow tribal casinos to offer poker games online. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006, and it prohibits anyone from making money through online poker or online gaming.  States can pass laws to override this, but that has yet to happen in the state of California.

The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel tribe tried to challenge the law in 2014, but they were quickly served with an injunction from the state. After a long court battle, the state of California won, and the online poker site was shut down. It will take an amendment to the state constitution to launch an online poker site.

Daily Fantasy California

Daily Fantasy Sports operators note that California is the largest DFS market in the United States, and all of the major operators have a presence. The state of California has made laws legalizing fantasy sports, but they have yet to pass a law to regulate DFS operators. 

While daily fantasy sports operators currently offer their services to the residences of California, it is not recommended to partake in these activities until legislation is fully passed. Should there be any updates regarding DFS laws in California, you will be able to follow them on this page.

Online Lottery California

The California Lottery was created in 1984 after voters in the state voted to pass a lottery proposition. The California State Lottery Act of 1984 allowed for the creation of the lottery, and the first ticket was sold a year later.  Currently, there is no online lottery in the state of California, and there haven’t been any bills introduced to change these laws.

The California State Lottery Act of 1984 gave the governor the power to appoint a five-person commission to run the lottery. The California Lottery does not have any other powers like other states provided their lottery commission. 

Other states that have worked on legalizing sports betting have let their Lottery Commission regulate the industry, but that does not appear likely in California with such a small commission.

Other Important Californian Gambling Facts

Gambling in California dates back to 1933 when a constitutional amendment legalized betting on horse races. Betting on horse racing online is legalized, and that’s the only current form of online gambling legal in the state. 

Prop 37 created the California State Lottery in 1984, and in 1988 the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed, which gave tribes the ability to start building their casinos on tribal land.

State lawmakers are hoping to legalize sports betting to produce revenue for the state, but if Native American Tribes take control of the sports betting industry, then the tax rate would be much lower.

Gambling in California Conclusion

If the Native American tribes are able to get enough signatures, then the gambling scene in California would be expanded sometime in 2021. State lawmakers have tried to get online gambling in California legal for a few years, and they will continue to work hard to get this to happen. 

Despite efforts throughout the years to legalize more forms of online gambling, nothing appears imminent in 2020. Even though the gambling laws in California are a bit confusing, there is plenty of hope that a change is coming.

Legal Betting In California FAQ

Gambling itself is legal in the state of California, and there are casinos and race tracks throughout the state authorized to take bets and offer different forms of gambling.

Owning or operating a sportsbook is illegal in the state of California, as is setting up or running your own online casino or poker room. Running or offering banking or percentage games with cards or dice is also considered an illegal form of gambling in California.

Betting on sports is strictly prohibited in the state of California, despite attempts from local lawmakers to pass a law to legalize it.

Online betting is not legal in the state of California, and that includes the lottery in California. There have been attempts to make betting online legal in the state, but nothing has been made official up to this point.


Jon Young

Jon is a magazine editor and writer with over 15 years’ experience in the gambling industry. He has written articles on everything from video slots and roulette to sports betting, poker, and strategy.

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