Is Online Gambling Legal in California?
The Golden State offers legal sweepstakes sites, social casinos, and social poker rooms. It also features a soft stance on unregulated daily fantasy sports (DFS).
Therefore, Californians can partake in some types of online gambling. They don’t enjoy access to legal California sports betting sites, poker sites, or internet casinos yet.
History of Internet Gambling in California
California politicians have long been fascinated with internet gambling. After seeing online poker excel for years, lawmakers drafted an iPoker bill in 2009.
The California Online Poker Law Enforcement Compliance and Consumer Protection Act sought to legalize CA internet poker. It never gained any serious recognition among legislators, though.
However, this act inspired more online poker bills over the coming years. State Senator Roderick Wright introduced internet poker legislation every year from 2010 to 2013.
Assemblyman Adam Gray authored the first bill (HB 431) that made it past the committee level. HB 431 also drew support from a large coalition that included PokerStars, several cardrooms, and the Morongo and San Manuel tribes.
Despite the support, Gray’s legislation failed to draw a vote in either house.
Legalization efforts for internet poker have simmered in California. Discussions on California online casinos never truly began.
Online sports betting has been drawing more attention lately. In 2020, State Sen. Bill Dodd introduced SC 6, which would’ve regulated online/retail sports betting and poker sites.
Both tribal casinos and cardrooms could’ve offered internet betting and poker under SC 6. However, Dodd pulled the bill after facing strong opposition from the tribes.
When will California Legalize Online Gambling?
California’s gambling industry features multiple competing interests. Cardrooms, racetracks, and tribal casinos all carry heavy influence over CA gambling.
Tribal casinos collectively earn the most revenue at over $8 billion annually. Therefore, they believe that any form of legal internet gambling should belong to them.
Racetracks and cardrooms, meanwhile, won’t cede iGambling to the tribes. Each interest wants an opportunity to earn revenue from California online gambling.
Adding to the muddled situation, voters must amend the state constitution before retail/online betting can become legal. This means that gambling legislation can only be passed every other year.
California’s next chance to amend the constitution is in 2022. Additionally, bills must pass both state Houses with a two-thirds majority vote.
Considering everything, we aren’t sure if online sportsbooks, casinos, and/or poker rooms will become a reality by 2022. However, we estimate that at least one form of internet gambling will be legal by 2024 or 2026.
California Online Betting
For years, Californians have been travelling across the border to place sports bets in Nevada. Therefore, legislators are motivated to legalize sports gambling and keep betting money in-state.
The aforementioned SC 6 would’ve regulated both retail and online sports betting. However, tribes heavily opposed this legislation, and author Bill Dodd was forced to pull it.
Tribes are working on their own referendum that would only make retail sports wagering legal. Most tribal casinos fear that online betting could upset their status quo as CA gambling market leaders.
California Online Casinos
The Golden State features sweepstakes and social casinos. A sweepstakes casino lets you purchase coins that you can use to gamble for prizes.
You can earn coins through promotions, social media, and/or mail-in contests. The latter make sweepstakes gaming similar to other sweepstakes contests, like Publishers Clearinghouse.
A social casino also awards coins, or chips, that you use to gamble. However, it doesn’t provide a chance to win money or other prizes.
Instead, social casinos only allow you to earn achievements and level up. You can also brag to social media friends about your accolades.
Popular options for both social and sweepstakes casinos include:
- Big Fish Casino (social)
- Chumba Casino (sweepstakes)
- DoubleDown (social)
- GSN Casino (social)
- Luckyland Slots (sweepstakes)
- Slotomania (social)
Many sweepstakes and social casinos offer bonuses. Chumba Casino, for example, delivers $2 in Sweeps Coins just for completing registration.
California Daily Fantasy Sports
California has never legalized daily fantasy sports. However, its laws don’t explicitly ban DFS either.
As a result, DraftKings and FanDuel—the two DFS giants—both serve Californians. State lawmakers and attorneys don’t seem overly concerned with unregulated daily fantasy.
FanDuel and DraftKings see themselves as offering completely legal skill-based games. Therefore, they don’t view their companies as violating state laws.
California Poker Sites
CA lawmakers have made numerous efforts to legalize online poker for over a decade. However, no legislation has passed to date.
Sweepstakes and social poker sites are currently the only legal options in California. Popular social and sweepstakes poker rooms include:
- Global Poker (sweepstakes)
- Pokerist (social)
- WSOP Poker (social)
- Zynga (social)
These sites work just like sweepstakes and social casinos. Of course, the key difference is that they offer poker instead of casino games.
California Online Horse Racing Betting
California is home to prominent racetracks, such as San Anita Park, Del Mar, and Los Alamitos. Unsurprisingly, many Californians are passionate about this sport.
The Golden State features off-track betting at various locations. It also allows horse wagering through sites like BetAmerica and TVG.
Prospective CA Online Gambling Sites
Due to the factors covered before, we can’t estimate when California might regulate internet gambling. When state politicians do legalize iGambling, some sites stand a strong chance of excelling in this large market.
Likely sites that would apply for licensing include:
- Barstool Bets
With over 39.5 million people, The Golden State can support plenty of betting sites. More online bookmakers than those covered above would certainly apply for licensing.
We’d fully expect California to require online operators to partner with a land-based casino, racetrack, or cardroom. Besides Tennessee, every state with legal mobile betting has made this requirement so far.
Deposits & Withdrawals at California Gambling Sites
US mobile betting markets offer roughly the same banking options. California would most likely feature the same mixture of deposit and cashout methods as other states.
- Cash - Visit a CA land-based gambling venue and deposit in person.
- Credit card - Instantly fund your account with Visa or Mastercard.
- E-check - Send an e-check (ACH) from your bank to a gambling site.
- E-wallet - Use Neteller, PayPal, and/or Skrill to deposit.
- Prepaid card - Gambling sites issue branded prepaid cards for deposit purposes.
- PayNearMe - Visit a local 7-Eleven and fund your account in person.
- Cash - You could also cash out at California land-based gambling establishments.
- E-check - Transfer money from the gambling site back to your bank account.
- E-wallet - These services work as handy withdrawal methods as well.
- Prepaid card - Transfer funds back to your branded prepaid card.
Online Gambling Bonuses in California
If lawmakers approve multiple forms of internet gambling, they’ll also pave the way for many bonus opportunities. Likely offers from CA online casinos, poker sites, and/or sportsbooks would include:
- No-deposit bonus - You receive a bonus after signing up for an account.
- Match-deposit bonus - The gambling site matches your deposit up to a given amount.
- Cashback - You receive a percentage of your casino losses back within a specified time frame (e.g., seven days).
- Risk-free bet - An online sportsbook lets you earn losses back from a losing first wager.
- Free spins - An internet casino awards you slots spins that you can use to generate winnings.
- Loyalty rewards - Many gambling sites feature loyalty programs that offer rewards based on your play.
FAQ on Online Gambling in California
The Golden State only features legal DFS, sweepstakes gaming, social casinos, and social poker sites. It hasn’t regulated internet casinos, poker rooms, or sportsbooks yet.
Politicians and competing gambling interests haven’t agreed on any legislation so far. Most notably, the tribes, racetracks, and card rooms disagree on who should be in the online market. Tribes want a monopoly over internet gambling or no market at all, while cardrooms and racetracks don’t want to be cut out.
No legal form of California online gambling is exclusive to the state. Sweepstakes gaming, social casinos, and DFS sites are legal nearly everywhere throughout the US.
That said, you don’t need to travel to California just to gamble online. Instead, you can do so from your home state.
If CA does regulate more forms of internet gambling, it will require you to be within state lines when betting.
Outside of lottery wins, California taxes gambling winnings. It also features the country’s highest state income tax rate, which tops out at 13.3%.
You only need to be 18 years old to gamble in the Golden State. Some land-based casinos require gamblers to be 21 years old so they can serve alcohol to all patrons.
However, this wouldn’t apply to online gambling. You can enjoy any legal form of CA internet gambling so long as you’re 18.