People have been headed west to strike gold for years, and it was always a gamble. To this day California remains extremely pro-gambling, and that may be putting it lightly. The Golden State has 69 tribal-owned casinos statewide and is the birth state of the modern Indian casino as well as the “California Card Rooms” of the lawless west. From slots to poker rooms: it’s more than likely that CA will see a shift to a friendly online culture as well sometime here soon.
CA Legal Gambling History
California has deep roots in gambling. It’s been a part of the fabric of the state since the days of the Gold Rush where one wouldn’t have much of a problem finding themselves a card room for some real money player action. These card rooms (“California Cardrooms”, as they’ve become known) operated without issue even after the state’s inception. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the state of California started to write out and pass legislation that was specific to regulating gambling.
The state of CA had formally legalized horse race betting in 1933, which today is one of the few forms of online gambling that the state allows thanks to a 2010 bill. The next step for California came in 1984 when the state created a lottery, which today is one of the largest lottery systems in the nation and a huge financial success for the state that seems to always spend more than they have.
But probably the biggest power move to take place in the state comes thanks to the Native Americans of California who successfully put through Prop 1A, which legalized casino gambling on tribal lands. This didn’t happen overnight, however. It was spanned over many years of planning and talks among the states many tribes since the “Indian Gaming Regulatory Act” was passed in 1988.
Every year since 2012 there has been a steady stream of bills put forward to legalize online casino gambling and gaining support and interest. While nothing has gone through yet, it looks hopefully for two reasons: 1) the state is infamous for quickly spending up its tax dollars, and online gambling tax revenue could help alleviate some of that burden; and 2) There has been growing interest in the Interstate Online Gaming Agreement that was passed in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey; which legalizes online poker and connects poker players in these states.
CA Gambling Legal Status
California laws can be hard to define sometimes. For instance: casino gambling, slots, blackjack, and poker in CA’s famous poker rooms are legal in the state but an anti-ball and dice game law prevents people from playing games such as roulette and craps. Some casinos get around this law by tweaking the games a little bit (by adding in cards, etc.).
The legal gambling ages aren’t very well defined either since all casinos fall on tribal land where each casino sets the legal age. Typically it is anywhere from 18-21 years old to gamble, but it varies with the casino.
Online casino gaming and sports betting remain illegal in the state of CA. There also hasn’t been a law to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports, but websites do exist in the state undisturbed. California also allows horse betting; at the track, OTB, and even online. Players must be 18 and up to bet. The state lottery in California is huge, one of the nations largest. Like horse betting, to play the lottery in CA you must be at least 18. Lastly, it is legal to play bingo for real money in CA.
CA Tribal Casinos
California is the birthplace of the Indian casino. The majority of the state’s tribes are casino owners, and CA is home to 69 Native American owned casinos; which make up the state’s entire casino population.
CA Legal Card Rooms
A characteristic of California’s legal gambling landscape is that it allows for legal poker rooms. These poker rooms can stand alone or be part of a bigger gambling casino. Sometimes they are just a room in a bar somewhere with a couple of tables. It really doesn’t matter as long as the operators are properly licensed. California is home to 97 of these poker rooms to be exact, with 1273 tables spread across the state. Commerce Casino doesn’t only have the largest poker room in the country but in the entire world.
The gambling age in California is technically 18 and up, but some poker rooms have the legal age set at 21 to comply with state alcohol laws.
CA Legal Gambling FAQ’s
What can I and what can’t I bet on legally in the state of CA?
The following forms of gambling are legal in California: casino gaming (restricted to tribal lands), poker rooms, horse betting (on and offline), the state lottery, and bingo.
Fantasy sports don’t seem to be either illegal or legal. DFS websites do exist in CA. Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
The following is illegal in the state of CA: ball and dice games (such as roulette and craps), all forms of online gaming (horse betting aside), and sports betting.
What are the requirements and restrictions of legal gambling in CA?
The age limit to gamble at CA casinos and poker rooms vary with each property. Typically it is anywhere from 18-21. Some casinos host 18 and up areas and 21 and up rooms on the same property, due to being in compliance with the state’s alcohol laws.
To play the state lottery, bet on races, and bingo; players must be 18 and up.
Will Legal online gambling be making its way to CA anytime soon?
Every year there are attempts pushing for legalized online poker and other casino gambling (even sports betting). While none have gone through yet, it is speculated that they will at some point for tax revenue reasons (which California loves). This partnered with the success that CA has seen in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey with legalizing online poker, it looks very likely that we’ll see forms of online gambling made legal in CA soon.
If a current sports betting petition collects enough signatures it will appear on ballots in 2019, allowing for state voters to decide. If it gets enough votes, it could be likely that California begins to see sports betting by 2020.