California residents and visitors have a wide array of land-based gambling options to choose from, including casinos, lottery, poker, and more. While online and mobile options are more limited, innovative companies like b spot are popping up to expand the options. Before we jump into the legal details, here’s an overview.
The Golden state’s gambling laws are rather robust — but do have limitations. You can roll dice in an Indian casino, play pai gow poker (a California creation) in a card room or put some money on Saxon Warrior, one of the long shot horses in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
When it comes to California betting, you can legally partake in 7 basic types of gambling. Legal California gambling includes:
- Indian Casinos
There are 69 California Indian casinos operated by 62 of the 109 California tribes. With revenues topping $7 billion annually, it’s the nation’s largest Indian gaming state.
- Card Rooms
As long as the establishment has a state gambling license, card rooms are legal. Players are betting against one another instead of against the “house.”
- Horserace wagering
The oldest racetrack in Southern California was opened in Arcadia in 1934, a year after the state passed legislation allowing pari-mutuel wagering. Today, horserace betting (in person and online) is regulated by the California Horse Racing Board.
- Fusion gambling (b spot)
A new kind of hybrid gambling that uses the results of live horse races to power casino-styles games.
- Charitable gaming
Bingo! There are a number of rules and regulations that govern nonprofit organizations that want to host bingo nights, raffles or poker tournaments.
- Daily Fantasy Sports
Draft a roster of individuals and try to win your pool. FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo Sports Daily Fantasy are the primary operators of online fantasy sports contests.
California manages a state lottery system (from weekly drawings to Scratchers) and participates in the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries. Cha-ching!
Now for the bad news. You’re not allowed to have anything to do with these following games specifically and that means hosting them, dealing them and/or playing them. These are: Roulette; Monte; Faro; Lansquenet; Tan; Rondo; Fan-tan; Rouge et noire; Twenty-one; Seven-and-a-half; Hokey-pokey.
Also illegal: all types of percentage or banking games played with dice or cards. A percentage game could be, for example, a weekly poker game where the host collects a fee based on a percentage of the bets.
WHAT ABOUT SPORTS BETTING?
In person sports gambling is illegal in California, while online sportsbooks cannot operate inside of California.
WHAT ABOUT ONLINE POKER?
Online poker is now legal in California.
Depends on the action. The legal gambling age for horse race wagering and the lottery is 18, but you must be 21 to play at many casinos and card rooms.
For more info on California gambling laws:
For more facts or to reach a lawyer: lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practicestate/gaming-law/california
Note: The above CA gambling laws and commentary do not constitute legal advice in any way. These are only our observations and interpretations of California betting laws. Please consult with official California legal sources or attorneys if you have any questions about how California gambling laws work.