California Online Casinos: Is Online Gambling Legal in California?

Fact Checked by Blake Weishaar

California online casinos are currently not authorized to operate due to state regulations. While there are limited legal gambling options available, there is a possibility for change, especially with the recent efforts to legalize California sports betting. In this guide, we keep you informed with the latest updates on the potential legalization of online gambling and introduce you to free and legal alternatives to California online casinos.

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Is Online Gambling Legal in California?

No, California online gambling for real money is not legal at this time. When it comes to online gambling, California is home to the most complex and intractable landscape in the United States. This means that, despite this being the richest and most populous state in the union, legal California online gambling sites are a long way off. To make matters more complicated, California's tribes have enormous power and say in everything related to gambling in California, making it fair to wonder if California online casinos would ever become law.

🚫 Online Casinos Legal?No, Only Social/Sweepstakes Casinos
🎰 Retail Casinos Legal?Yes
πŸ”ž Legal Gambling Age18
πŸ“† Last VerifiedJuly 3, 2024

To cut a very long story short, there are several powerful competing interests on the casino gambling scene. First among these is the Native American tribes that run all the several dozen brick-and-mortar California casinos. The tribes are implacably opposed to all forms of online casino gaming and online sports betting being run here by major commercial companies - and the heavy defeats of recent attempts at legalization underscored the power they wield.

Additionally, there are three other parties who want a say, namely the card rooms - to which the tribes are extremely hostile - the racetracks, and the California legislature. Then we need to consider those leading betting brands that are performing so strongly across more than 30 states where online wagering is legal.

The result is antagonism, deadlock, and stalemate, and a situation where there are incredibly few ways to enjoy online gaming in California. The only sport you can wager on is horse racing, while there are no licensed online bingo sites apart from those used for charitable gambling. You cannot even buy California Lottery tickets online.

California Online Gambling Legalization Timeline

  • πŸ“† 2022: Amid expensive politicking, campaigning, and bickering, Californians voted heavily against propositions 26 and 27, marking the end of efforts to legalize online sports betting and potentially California online casinos. 
  • πŸ“† 2021: The campaigns behind the propositions related to a California iGaming bill, both of which would eventually make it onto the ballot paper in 2022, got underway.
  • πŸ“† 2020: Bill SCA-6, which attempted to push towards legalization without the involvement of the tribes, got through committee but did not make it past the Senate floor.
  • πŸ“† 2019: Bill ACA-16 revisited the path to legalization in vain. The tribes launched a bid to legalize sports betting at tribal casinos only.
  • πŸ“† 2018: The US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, clearing the way for states to legalize California online casinos and online sportsbooks in the state.

Did Online Gambling Legislation Pass in California? 

The fate of the most recent attempts to legalize some form of online sports betting in California showed just far the state has to go before this happens. Two propositions were put to California residents in November 2022 - and both were resoundingly defeated.

Proposition 26, which would have allowed tribal casinos and racetracks in California to offer on-site sports betting, was voted down by an emphatic 68%-32% margin. Proposition 27, which would have allowed online betting only, was crushed even more decisively, with only 18% voting in favor. No other forms of online gambling in California have been proposed or passed.

California Online Gambling Laws

So, what happens now? Californians can look across the nation and see how many states are embracing the potential of online sports betting and casino games. 

But the earliest any renewed bid to push for legalization in the Golden State will almost certainly not be made before 2024 - when the presidential election takes place. For odds on that election, check out our Gavin Newsom Odds page.

It will be fascinating to see what form any future attempts to move California gambling online take. Two things are certain; that any initiative will have to involve the tribes, and that its proponents will also have to work extremely hard to overcome California residents' staunch opposition to sports betting, real money online casinos and concerns over responsible gambling.

California Online Gambling Alternatives

While California online gambling and betting on sports are currently prohibited, there are alternative options available for those who want to play online casino games. Numerous California social casinos and sweepstakes casinos offer a variety of options, including online slots, table games, card games, and progressive jackpots. What's even better is that gamblers have the chance to win real prizes while enjoying a Las Vegas-style online casino experience. To help bettors make the best choices, we've narrowed down the list of available options.

High 5 Casino

High 5 Casino California is a highly rated social casino site and app on both iOS and Android devices that allows players to win real-money prizes. High 5 offers more than 800 Vegas-style online slot machines and table games. 

The casino games offered by this legal online casino include some of the top slot machines that you know and love from real casino floors like Triple Double Da Vinci Diamonds and Platinum Goddess and table games like American Blackjack, Multi-hand Blackjack, Roulette and Dragon Tiger - a version of baccarat. 

WOW Vegas

WOW Vegas is quickly becoming one of the popular social casinos on the market after launching in 2022. It offers all the bells and whistles of real money casinos, but is a great free-to-play California online casino option. 

With WOW Vegas, you'll find online slot machines, blackjack, poker and roulette. There are also welcome bonuses you can sign up for to boost your betting credits, and you'll even find a dedicated customer support team to help with any problems you might have.

Pulsz Social Casino

Pulsz California is a legal and safe option to play online casino in California. And the brand operates as one of California's sweepstakes sites, meaning you can win real-money prizes! 

Participants can play over 500 Las Vegas-style casino games with one of two virtual currencies, either Gold Coins or Sweeps coins. Gold coins can be purchased, but winnings with them only provide entertainment and earn more screen time. Sweeps coins however do let the player collect real dollar winnings, but they cannot be purchased.

BetRivers.net California

BetRivers.net California is among the top social California online gambling sites in the state, allowing residents to enjoy free-to-play online casino games and sports betting at home. BetRivers.net offers a social casino (Casino4Fun) offering more than 600 Las Vegas-style slot machines and table games, and sportsbook (Sports Zone) offering social sports betting. 

The brand is the social gambling arm of Rush Street Interactive, which operates the likes of real-money sites and online sportsbooks BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse. 

Expected California Online Casinos To Launch

If and when the day arrives when online California casinos are launched, there are certain operators that are likely to be prominent in the first wave. One of the key weapons in the battle to create the best California online casino will be a top-notch app offering online slot machines and table games

We can expect some of the best online casinos from many of the leading names in the market, many of which already have a casino app that stands alone from its sports betting equivalent. And those online casinos are expected to allow Californian bettors to play slots online as well as table games and other casino games. 

Some of these operators are always at the forefront when it comes to penetrating new markets; some are already present in some way in the Golden State; many are likely to launch California iGaming apps offering online slot machines and table games, and to be vying to be recognized as some of the best California online casinos in what is sure to be a huge and lucrative market. 

Brands expected to launch California gambling apps are:

BetMGM Casino California

The presence of a social casino with the MGM brand that is active in California suggests that a long game is being played. If California gambling laws are altered to allow real money online casinos, what better than to have your name known in the state already? And the BetMGM Casino app that is available for real-money online slots, table games and online poker elsewhere is an elite example of how it should be done. 

Most gamblers have already had a taste of the quality that MGM Resorts International and BetMGM can bring with the BetMGM California Sportsbook, which is live in plenty of states. 

Caesars Casino California

Caesars Casino is offered alongside the Caesars Sportsbook California, and can be accessed on the same app. 

Caesars Casino is highly regarded by players and it would be astonishing if there were not serious attempts to add this brand to the list of California gambling apps if the opportunity arose given parent company Caesars' footprint of retail casinos in the state.

FanDuel Casino California

FanDuel offers a casino app for mobile players providing online slot machines and table games. Not surprisingly, given the quality and popularity of the online offerings produced by this brand including the FanDuel California Sportsbook, the app is very highly rated by its users and would be a compelling addition to the list of names looking to launch a mobile casino in California.

DraftKings Casino California

DraftKings Casino is another multi-faceted brand that offers a standalone casino app with some of the top online slot machines and table games to complement its DraftKings California Sportsbook offering and the DFS games with which it made its name. 

The operator has always been right at the forefront of mobile gaming innovation, which makes it certain it would would launch an app as part of a bid to be the best online casino California has to offer.

BetRivers Casino California

Many people in California play already at BetRivers.net, which is one of California's leading social casinos and sportsbooks allowing visitors to play slots online and table games. If it ever has the chance to launch a real-money California casino, BetRivers Casino will surely make the most of that opportunity. 

This is a brand that delivers a superb online casino experience, which includes one of the best loyalty rewards programs in the market.

Will Bonuses Be Available at Online Casinos in CA?

If and when legal online California casinos become a reality, the competition for customers will inevitably be fierce. One way in which brands will strive to stand out from the crowd will be by offering California casino bonusesthat trigger exciting welcome offers for new players, similar to the California sports betting promos that could be available if the market opens.

By entering a promo code during the process of registering for an account, you automatically activate that bonus and can be sure of enjoying the benefits it brings. Welcome bonuses come in different forms - and there are other ways in which ongoing customers are offered extra value on a regular basis while they play with a particular brand.

No Deposit Bonuses

You may occasionally be offered a no-deposit bonus as a casino bonus when you sign up for a new account. In return for registering as a customer, you receive a few dollars to finance your initial play - before you even deposit any of your own money. 

No-deposit bonuses tend to be relatively small, given the risk that you might play with the funds, win, and never actually invest your own cash.

Deposit Bonuses

Many promo codes trigger deposit bonuses, which are another popular form of offer that boosts the funds at your disposal when you begin playing at an online casino. A deposit match, for instance, means that the sum you deposit is matched by the casino - effectively doubling your initial spending power and taking the pressure off for the first few online casino games you play.

Risk-Free Play

Another way of being able to play without pressure, and one of the types of casino bonuses used most often, is the risk-free initial session of online gambling. This is usually 24 hours, during which any losses up to a certain limit - often as much as $1,000 - are returned to you as site credit. 

Free Spins

Perhaps the most common casino bonus for ongoing customers is the chance to enjoy free spins. These are usually on new slot titles, and the rationale is that you might enjoy the casino game in question and continue to play it even when your free spins are over.

Betting Competitions

Many online casinos host regular tournaments relating to particular casino games, or a certain time of the week, during which your performance earns you a place on a leaderboard. Finish high enough on that leaderboard and you will qualify for prizes, usually in the form of free spins, site credit or bonus cash. 

Top California Online Casino Games to Expect

When they eventually launch, the best California online casinos will offer a tempting choice of online games for their visitors to enjoy. The exact mix of games will vary from brand to brand, but you should expect to find the following categories of online casino games available.

Online Slots

The vast majority of titles at most California gambling sites will be slot games, most of which are expected to be similar to those offered at tribal casinos in the state. Slot machines are easy to understand and to play - and modern casino game developers are constantly delivering amazing visual experiences to add to the excitement to play online slots. 

Online Roulette

At any online casino, just as in every real-life casino, you should expect to find roulette. There are a host of variations around the theme of a little white ball spinning around a wheel; and game developers explore them all, enabling the best online casinos to offer a host of ways to enjoy roulette.

Online Blackjack

Blackjack is the most popular game at any casino, and online casino brands tap into that appetite by offering a large number of ways to play. Like roulette, blackjack combines a simple structure with endless intriguing possibilities. You should expect to find a host of ways you can enjoy blackjack when you visit online casinos in California.

Online Craps

Craps is far and away one of the most exciting table games around due to its fast-paced action and numerous bets. Now, craps can be an intimidating game to join on the casino floor given the popularity of the game, but now you can play craps online! Several online gambling sites like FanDuel and DraftKings now offer online craps, and the look and feel of the game is just like the real deal. 

Online Poker

Poker remains the card game most closely associated with betting, and as a result many online casinos have strong online poker sites. Some even have apps dedicated to the old game.   Whether you prefer to play a video version of the game, or like to get your cards dealt by a live dealer, the best California online casino sites for you will cater to your taste. However, you still cannot legally play online poker in California. 

Online Live Dealer Games

While many online casino players are content to stick with video games, a substantial proportion enjoy playing with a live dealer in attendance. This is partly because it brings a flavor of being in a real casino to you, wherever you are playing. At the best California casinos online, you can expect to find a host of table games presented and conducted by a live dealer, some of which could be located at tribal casinos in the state.

Online Video Poker

Video poker is a popular form of casino gambling among many gamblers, and a simple game to understand as well. Expect California online casinos to offer online video poker games in addition to the other forms of casino gambling like slots, table games and poker.  Fans of video poker will be happy to hear that several online casinos will certainly bring the game to the Golden State, so keep an eye out for online video poker games when the time comes. 

California Online Casino Banking Options

There should be several payment methods available if and when California online casinos become legal. You should feel secure when playing with online casino sites regulated by the California Gambling Control Commission. The banking methods should include:

Credit/Debit Cards

It's no surprise to find most online casinos accept credit or debit cards as a way of making a deposit. However, some brands do not let you withdraw funds to the same card - check out the payout methods available before you sign up for an account.

e-Wallets

Many people are now comfortable with brands like PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller. These are user-friendly wallets that make it easy to move money around - and to pay into an online casino account. You should note that they are a particularly quick method of withdrawing money.

PayNearMe

This method is all about convenience when you are paying into your online casino account. You can take cash into stores such as CVS Pharmacy, Family Dollar, or 7-Eleven, hand over the cash and get a barcode that transfers money into your account. By definition, though, it cannot be used to withdraw funds.

Prepaid Cards

The best California casinos online will almost certainly offer this as an option. Branded prepaid Play+ cards allow you to load them up with cash before transferring the money to your online casino account. This can be used for withdrawing money as well as depositing it.

ACH/Bank Transfer

This looks on the surface like a really good way of moving your money online. Your bank connects to the online sportsbook or casino operator, and the money is transferred between them. However, it can take some time for the funds to arrive - several days in the case of withdrawals.

Venmo

The ease of depositing and withdrawing from your Venmo account is now available on several online casinos. If you carry a balance on Venmo, you can use this balance to fund your account on the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings. 

What Forms of Gambling Are Legal in California?

So, what exactly can you wager on legally in California right now? The answer is... not much. The state permits very few gambling activities explicitly, and those that are allowed - such as charitable gambling - are strictly controlled. The only activity that exists in a gray area is Daily Fantasy Sports, which has never been outlawed but has never technically been legalized either.

Casinos in California

California has over 60 land-based casinos owned by Indian tribes across the state. The casinos can range from a tiny card room to full-fledged casino resorts with hotels and golf courses. These facilities offer casino games expected to be found at any typical casino - slot machines, table games, card games, poker games, bingo, etc. 

Horse Racing in California

California is home to some of the top horse racing tracks in the world, including Santa Anita Park, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Golden Gate Fields and Los Alamitos Race Course. And some of the most famous horse races take place in the Golden State like the TVG Pacific Classic, Santa Anita Derby and Del Mar Derby, to name a few. California horse racing is overseen by the California Horse Racing Board. 

Lottery in California

California has one of the largest lotteries in the US, boasting eight draw games and tons of scratch-offs. The California Lottery even has a state-exclusive lottery game - SuperLotto Plus - offering the largest starting jackpot among state lotteries at $7 million. 

Poker in California

Poker in California is based in the state's card rooms and tribal casinos, offering plenty of places to play card games. In fact, the Golden State is a hugely popular hotbed of poker action, with nearly 100 legal card rooms from Eureka to Chula Vista. And that's the only form of legal poker in the state as California online poker remains largely illegal. 

Daily Fantasy Sports in California

California daily fantasy sports are a grey area in that there are no laws explicitly legalizing daily fantasy sports contests but there are also no laws prohibiting the activity. With the Golden State being the most populous in the United States, it shouldn't be surprising that California accounts for the largest single state market for DFS sites. 

Charitable Gaming in California

California allows non-profit organizations to offer charitable gaming operations in the form of bingo, raffles or poker nights serving as fundraisers. Such operations became legal in 2007 when legislation took effect. To offer charitable gambling, non-profits must be registered in California for at least three years to conduct charitable poker tournaments once a year. Single prizes for these tournaments must not exceed $500 and the total cash value of all prizes must not exceed $5,000. 

Commercial Casinos in California

There are currently more than 60 land-based casinos in California, each of them operated by one of the Native American tribes that are recognized in the state, despite being a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas casinos. When you visit these casinos, you'll enjoy a big choice of slot games, as well as live dealer table games, including poker. Among the biggest and most popular casinos in the Golden State are the following:

Casino NameCasino AddressTelephone NumberOwner/OperatorNo. of Slots
Barona Resort & Casino1932 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside619-443-2300Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians2,500
Cache Creek Casino Resort14455 CA-16, Brooks530-796-3118Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation2,400
Graton Casino & Resort288 Golf Course Drive West, Rohnert Park707-588-7100Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria3,000
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon951-849-3080Morongo Tribe2,700
Pechanga Resort & Casino45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula877-711-2946Pechanga Band of LuiseΓ±o Indians4,500
Red Hawk Casino1 Red Hawk Boulevard, Placerville530-677-7000Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians2,300
Sycuan Casino Resort5469 Casino Way, El Cajon619-445-6002Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation2,800
Thunder Valley Casino Resort1200 Athens Avenue, Lincoln916-408-7777United Auburn Indian Community3,400
Viejas Casino & Resort5000 Willows Road, Alpine619-445-5400Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians3,000
Yaamava Resort & Casino777 San Manuel Boulevard, Highland909-864-5050San Manuel Entertainment Authority4,900

Could the tribes who operate these casinos launch their own online California casinos one day? Nobody knows how the political and commercial landscape will shift in the next few years, but it's unlikely that the tribes' position will become any less powerful than it is now.

If and when California online casinos become permitted by law, the tribes are unlikely to relinquish that position without a fight. The current tribal casino industry enjoys a revenue of $8 billion a year.

It's possible that they could partner with a mainstream commercial brand to run online casino gaming; similarly, it's possible that the technology required to launch and operate California online casinos will have evolved to be easily mastered by non-tech specialists by then.

Are There Casinos in California?

Yes, there are casinos in California, and plenty of them. These casinos sprawl the Golden State and range from card rooms to casino resorts. The majority of casinos in the state are clustered near Los Angeles and San Diego. All of the state's casinos are owned by Native American tribes.  

Tribal casinos in California could eventually offer their own online table games and allow gamblers to play slots, pending legislation. That could welcome in some of the premier online casino operators like BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings and Caesars. 

What is the Largest Casino in California?

The largest casino in California is Yaamava' Resort & Casino, formerly known as San Manuel Casino, boasting over 300,000 square feet after opening its expansion in December 2021. 

Prior to that, Pechanga Resort Casino was the largest California casino at 200,000 square feet and closely followed by Morongo Casino at 195,000 square feet. 

Do California Casinos Have Hotels?

Yes, California casinos have hotels, slot machines, table games, card games, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. The majority of California's tribal casinos offer hotel rooms ranging from 200 to 1,200! 

What Casinos are in Los Angeles?

There are several casinos in and around Los Angeles, including some of the largest in the state. The closest casino to downtown LA is the Commerce Casino & Hotel, just 9 miles away. Other Los Angeles casinos include the Parkwest Bicycle Casino, Hollywood Park Casino, Crystal Casino, Lucky Lady Casino, Hustler Casino and Gardens Casino

If you travel outside of the city, you'll hit some of the larger tribal casinos in California like Pechanga Resort Casino, Yaamava' Casino (San Manuel Casino) and Morongo Casino Resort

What Casinos are in San Diego?

While there aren't any downtown San Diego casinos, there are a few casinos a quick drive away, while some of the larger California casinos are 20-30 miles away. The Seven Mile Casino is the closest gaming facility to downtown San Diego at just 9 miles away

If you want to broaden your horizons outside of Seven Mile, you'll need to drive at least 20 miles to gamble at the likes of Jamul Casino, Sycuan Casino Resort, or Barona Resort & Casino

What Casinos are in San Francisco?

For San Francisco, there are a few casinos to pick from. California casinos like Lucky Chances Casino and Artichoke Joe's Casino are just 13 miles from downtown San Fran. 

If you're up for a drive, you can check out the San Pablo Lytton Casino, 17 miles from downtown San Fran. 

What Casinos are in Sacramento?

California's capital city hosts plenty of casinos in and around the Sacramento. The newest of which is Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain, which opened in late 2019. 

Outside of that, Thunder Valley Casino Resort is among the top casinos in the market, just a half-hour drive from downtown Sacramento. 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Enter A Casino in California?

The age requirement to enter a casino in California is just 18 years old. That'll get you through the door, but if you're younger than 21, you can't gamble. The casino entry age requirement is younger than most states (21+) but the casino gambling age requirement falls in line with others. 

Can I Visit Offshore Online Casinos in California?

There are many brands based outside California that offer online gambling to the people of the Golden State. We strongly recommend that you do not play at offshore casinos

There are many reasons for taking this stance, but the most compelling is that, without a license from the California Gambling Control Commission, such brands are not bound by the strict terms of such a license. 

In short:

  • ❌ You have no legal recourse in the case of a dispute
  • ❌ Offshore casinos' security measures may be less stringent than those at licensed casinos
  • ❌ Your personal and financial information may be more vulnerable
  • ❌ You cannot be sure the games you play are being operated fairly
  • ❌ The promotional messaging around those games could be misleading

While offshore online casinos may be enticing due to the casino games offered, remember that sweepstakes and social casinos such as High 5 Casino or WOW Vegas are safe options that also offer the same casino games, at no cost to you. 

Responsible Gambling at California Online Casinos

All licensed online casinos in California will be expected to make responsible gambling a high priority. They should carry extensive details about ways in which you can keep your wagering under control, as well as links to expert agencies that can offer assistance if you fear you are developing a gambling problem.

What the Future Holds for California Online Casinos

It would be naΓ―ve to suggest that California online casinos will be legalized in the near future. Despite the size of the potential market in the richest state, the current political situation and interested parties - particularly the tribes - could take years to unpick, resolve, and move forward.

The scale of defeat suffered by the online and retail sports betting propositions in November 2022 suggests a lengthy battle to win over the hearts and minds of the California voters. Even then, parties with vested interests in the future of California online casinos and online sports betting would first have to resolve their differences and come up with a compelling plan to put before the electorate.

That does not appear to be likely any time soon. Even the prospect of getting another sports betting proposition with a chance of succeeding in 2024 appears unrealistic. And even if such a measure were passed by California lawmakers, there is no guarantee that online casinos would be included in any legislation to regulate online gambling such as sportsbooks.

The only logical conclusion is that we could be into the 2030s before efforts to legalize online gambling in California are successful and residents can play their favorite games at a legal online casino sites. Perhaps the best hope before then is that the tribes feel confident enough that going online would lead the way in launching their own online casinos.

California Online Casino FAQs

Author

Martin Booth

Martin Booth covers a gambit of topics for BetCalifornia.com as an award-winning contributor covering sports betting and casino gaming around the world for decades, Martin Booth is one of the most trusted voices in online gambling. From legislative updates in California to breaking down the top betting apps in CA.

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