The opportunity to legalize sports gambling opened up for California and other states in 2018 when the Supreme Court struck down PASPA—a federal ban on sports wagering.

Over 20 states have passed betting legislation to date. Several others have legislation in the pipeline.

State Sen. Bill Dodd introduced a sports gambling bill (SC 6) in California in 2020. However, he pulled SC 6 after facing stiff opposition from CA Native-American tribes.

Both retail and online sports betting remain illegal in the state. Voters must amend California’s constitution before politicians can even pass betting legislation.

Why hasn’t California Legalized Sports Gambling?

Several sides must come together for the Golden State to approve retail and internet sports betting:

  • Cardrooms: Want to be included in online betting or at least allowed to offer house-banked table games.
  • Racetracks: Also want to be included in internet wagering.
  • State Assembly & House: Each must approve a bill by a two-thirds majority.
  • Tribal casinos: Have a say in proposed legislation due to their gaming compact with the state.
  • CA Voters: Must amend the state’s constitution to allow for legal sports gambling.

Everything starts with the voters. They can approve a referendum to allow for sports betting during an election year (the next one is 2022).

Any politician that drafts betting legislation must get tribal input. The tribes pay roughly $100 million in casino profits to the state each year.

They could sue California for a breach of contract if legislators pass a bill without their approval.

Cardrooms and racetracks also pay money to the state and hold influence. They don’t want to be left out of potential betting legislation.

In summary, California hasn’t approved sports betting yet because too many parties hold power in the issue. All sides must come together for a bill to become a reality.

Will California Legalize Online Sports Betting?

The Golden State will likely approve online and retail sports gambling at some point. It stands to earn significant income through betting due to its massive economy ($3.2 trillion) and population (39.5 million).

As covered above, though, California faces many challenges in regulating sports gambling. It needs to overcome several hurdles before offering legal betting.

A tribal initiative to gather signatures for a future voter referendum does include racetracks. Under this proposal, tribes and horse tracks would be allowed to offer sports wagering.

However, the initiative cuts out racetracks. It also doesn’t include providing cardrooms to offer Vegas-style table games—something that cardrooms want badly.

Any side that’s not included will likely fight to block any impending bill. Furthermore, voters and both Houses must also vote on betting laws and legislation, respectively.

We’re not sure if all of this will happen by the end of 2022. Therefore, we predict that California will legalize internet sports betting in 2024 or 2026.

Likely CA Online Sportsbooks

Many retail and online bookmakers will come calling when California legalizes sports gambling. Likely internet operators include:

  • BetAmerica
  • BetMGM
  • BetRivers
  • Caesars
  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • PointsBet
  • theScore

Of course, each retail sportsbook and betting site would need to obtain licensing before operating. The California Gambling Control Commission would issue such licenses.

Bookmakers would need to partner with a tribal casino, card room, and/or racetrack—depending on who’s allowed in the market.

Are online casinos legal in California? See our California online casino guide to learn more!

How would California Betting Apps work?

Mobile betting is the lifeblood of the sports gambling industry. Therefore, CA bookmakers would offer Android and iOS apps.

Android betting apps are available on sportsbooks’ websites, as Google Play doesn’t allow gambling apps.

iOS apps are available in the App Store. Therefore, iPhone and iPad users would visit the App Store to download their favorite mobile sportsbooks.

Instant Betting

With a wide range of prospective bookmakers, California would feature one or more betting sites that don’t offer apps.

Internet sportsbooks that fall into this category provide “instant betting.” They let you view odds and place bets directly through their mobile website rather than an app.

Registering for an Account

Regardless of whether you use an app or instant betting, you must complete registration before placing wagers. By law, mobile bookmakers must confirm your identity for two reasons:

  1. Ensuring that you’re not on a gambling exclusion list.
  2. Verifying that you’re, in California’s case, 18 or older.

Betting sites request basic information to determine these factors. This info includes your name, birthdate, Social Security number, mailing address, and email.

After filling out the registration form, you submit it for approval. The mobile sportsbook should approve it instantly if you meet the qualifications.

Available Bet Types in California

The Golden State would likely offer every bet type that’s available in other regulated markets. These wagers include:

  • Moneyline
  • Spread
  • Totals (a.k.a. over/under)
  • Parlay
  • Teaser
  • Round Robin
  • Proposition bet (a.k.a. prop bet)
  • Live bet

Moneylines are traditionally the backbone of sports-gambling markets. They involve a straight-up bet on which team will win a game.

However, sportsbooks handicap both sides to evenly distribute betting action on each team. For example, the favored side might carry -125 odds (bet $12.50 to win $10) while the underdog features +155 odds (bet $10 to win $15.50).

Spread betting is popular in NFL and college-football markets. It calls on you to choose the side that will cover its assigned point spread.

If the Denver Broncos had a +6.5 spread, for instance, they’d need to lose by six points or fewer. If the LA Chargers had a -6.5 spread, they’d need to win by seven points or more.

Live betting is also highly popular. Bookmakers provide live bets throughout a game to give you more wagering opportunities.

CA Betting Markets

California is large enough to support many betting markets. Therefore, you might see an especially diverse array of sports in the Golden State.

We can’t predict with certainty which fringe sports CA bookmakers would add to the mix. However, California betting sites would most likely cover the following markets:

  • Australian rules football
  • Baseball
  • Basketball (pro & college)
  • Bowling
  • Boxing
  • Cricket
  • Darts
  • Esports
  • Football (pro & college)
  • Golf
  • Hockey
  • Mixed martial arts
  • Olympics
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

California boasts more professional sports franchises than any other state. Many gamblers could stick with betting on in-state teams and be happy.

Here are the major pro sports teams in the Golden State:

  • MLB
    • Los Angeles Angels
    • Los Angeles Dodgers
    • Oakland Athletics
    • San Diego Padres
    • San Francisco Giants
  • NBA
    • Los Angeles Clippers
    • Los Angeles Lakers
    • Golden State Warriors
    • Sacramento Kings
  • NFL
    • Los Angeles Chargers
    • Los Angeles Rams
    • San Francisco 49ers
  • NHL
    • Anaheim Ducks
    • Los Angeles Kings
    • San Jose Sharks

California also offers plenty of universities that would be big betting draws. We’d expect lawmakers to approve college betting if they were to legalize sports gambling.

If everything falls into place, here are the local college teams that bettors would focus on:

  • California State University, Fresno (Fresno State)
  • Stanford University
  • University of California
  • University of Southern California (UCS)
  • The University of Southern California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

This state features many more universities with Division-1 athletics. The ones listed above, though, would draw the most gambling action.

Will California Allow eSports Betting?

Many states hold reservations over legalizing esports betting. They’re worried about allowing esports bets when some professionals are under the age of 18.

However, we view California as holding fewer reservations about this matter than the average state.

The Golden State features a young minimum gambling age (18). It’s also liberal in general and would probably allow esports betting.

Depositing at CA Betting Sites Online

We can’t predict the exact deposit options that would be available in California. However, referencing other markets allows us to assume that you could use the banking options listed below:

  • ACH: You use your bank routing and account number to send funds to a betting site.
  • Cash: You visit a land-based casino/cardroom and deposit.
  • Neteller, PayPal & Skrill: These e-wallets let you transfer funds to an online sportsbook.
  • PayNearMe: You visit a local 7-Eleven and purchase a deposit voucher.
  • Play+ card: Internet sportsbooks can issue branded prepaid cards.
  • Visa, Mastercard: These credit card brands and others are often available in betting markets.

As for cashouts, you can typically use most of these same methods. Credit cards and PayNearMe are the only deposit options that aren’t available for withdrawals.

CA internet sportsbooks would require extra identification before sending payment. You’d need to provide a copy of your photo ID and other requested materials.

California Sports Betting Bonuses

Many US betting markets are generous with bonuses. California would surely fall into this category as well.

Common betting bonuses that you could expect are:

  • Match-deposit bonus: An online sportsbook matches your first deposit up to a given limit (e.g., $1,000).
  • No-deposit bonus: You sign up and receive a bonus without even depositing.
  • Odds boost: The sportsbook reduces its vig for a specified bet.
  • Risk-free bet: You place your first bet and can earn back losses in the event of a loss.
  • VIP rewards: You accumulate rewards as you continue placing bets.

Terms and conditions would apply to these offers. Therefore, you’d want to read the fine print behind any bonus before pursuing it.

FAQ California Sports Betting

How old must I be to bet online in California?

The Golden State features a minimum gambling age of 18. This same age limit would likely apply to internet sports betting.

Is DraftKings legal in California?

No. Neither DraftKings nor any other sportsbook is legal in California.

If the Golden State approves sports gambling, DraftKings would likely become one of the first licensed online operators.

Would CA betting sites be safe?

Yes. The California Gambling Control Commission would oversee the online and retail betting markets.

Do I need to pay taxes on CA sports betting winnings?

Yes. California treats all gambling winnings outside of lottery wins as taxable income.
Its state tax rate ranges from 1% to 13.3% based on your annual earnings. The top range is the highest in the US.

Would I need to live in California to bet on sports?

No. The Golden State would merely require you to be within state lines. Therefore, you could cross state lines and place bets in California.