The population of California is so large that it could very well be a country all to itself (there are more California residents than all of Canada, for example). Having said that, despite a huge economy and a size that tips the scales on most American policies, gambling is still something where the state controls most of what transpires. So, how do the gambling laws in California match up against other smaller states? Let’s take a look.
Sports Betting in California
As the most populated state in the United States, the California sports betting market offers the most lucrative opportunity for operators of any of the individual states. Companies have been salivating at the thought of being able to offer sports bets to a state full of professional sports teams, as well as a massive number of colleges spread out across the state. The government of California, however, has been very cautious in its move into sports betting, really not pursuing anything in the 18 months since the repeal of PASPA.
While this can be frustrating for both operators and bettors alike, it is essential to remember that there is a lot at stake in California, so getting sports betting regulations right is of the utmost importance. There are several stakeholders in play in the state, and this has historically caused friction. As of the end of 2019, there has been a proposal delivered by a coalition of 18 tribes to make sports betting legal only in their casino locations, while the state is also drafting their own more comprehensive bill. We can expect this debate to drag on well into 2020, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel as more government representatives are looking to accelerate the process.
Online Sports Betting
California is not only home to over 35 million residents, but it is also a massive piece of land, meaning that not everyone living in the state will have easy access to a retail sportsbook when they are finally open. The key to success in the state will be the ability for people to be able to bet from their phones and tablets. However, this is also the most contentious of all the issues being discussed between the states and the tribes. The proposal put forth by the tribal coalition had no provision for online betting, even on-property. This was a measure to protect the land-based casinos that these tribes have spent millions building but doesn’t take the current landscape into consideration. The state has other opinions on mobile gaming, and this is where the biggest fight will take place on the issue in 2020.
So where does that leave gamblers today? Well, offshore sportsbooks have been accepting wagers from California for two decades, and even in the face of potential legislation, they will continue to operate an arm’s length away from the law. While we don’t suggest these are the best places for Californians to make bets, they continue to generate massive amounts of handle in the state.
Horse Betting in California
As you can imagine, California has had a long history with the horse racing industry. Many champion horses have been bred and trained in this area of the country, and there are many racetracks offering live racing to residents. Along with the racing, there is a lot of pari-mutuel betting that takes place both at the tracks and at one of the many off-track betting sites in the state. There are no signs of the industry slowing down in California aside from the overall handle numbers that are affecting the industry as a whole. This is where tracks count on the simulcasts from other tracks around the country that allow their patrons to gamble on many more races than are hosted live.
Online Horse Betting
With horse racing being so popular in the state, you may be surprised to know that he live tracks and OTBs are not allowed to offer bettors an online platform to bet from their homes. This means that if you want to bet on horses and aren’t heading to a land-based facility, you need to search elsewhere. Luckily, there are many sites like Twinspires and Xpressbet that operate in California despite not being licensed there. They are licensed in Oregon, and for now, that seems to have left a loophole that allows California residents to create online accounts and make bets from their PCs or mobile devices.
Casino Gambling in California
California has a robust casino industry, all of which is controlled by the tribal nations in the state. The compact between the state and the native Americans allows the tribes to open casinos on their land, and many have done that over the years. Not only are there over a dozen full casinos in the state, but there are many poker rooms also open. Poker is considered a game of skill in California, and many have taken advantage of that to open card rooms without slot machines or other table games. All told, the casino gaming in California is widespread, and many residents are not too far away from a place to play.
Online Casinos in California
Well, before there was talk of potential sports betting licensing in California, discussions had been going on regarding the legalization of online casinos and poker. However, the tribes have been against the idea of going online for years to protect their land-based facilities and the revenues therein. If there is going to be sports betting legislation, which is more likely to happen given the popularity of legislation across the U.S., it is going to reinvigorate those discussions. The hope for everyone who loves to play casino games but cannot or doesn’t want to go to a land-based casino is that there will be a fast track to add these games to any online offering in the state.
Lottery in California
The California Lottery has been a mainstay in the state for decades and considering the population of the state, it is not shocking to know that billions of dollars have been generated for social programs in California from lottery sales. Players can try their luck at a scratch ticket for as low as one dollar, or try to become a multi-millionaire overnight with one of the huge jackpots that come from the Mega Millions and Powerball draws.
California Gambling FAQ
Is sports betting legal in California?
Sports betting is not legal yet in California. Despite PASPA being repealed in 2018, the state is taking a systematic approach to regulation as it tries to find a solution that will appeal to all the current stakeholders in gaming in the state.
When will sports betting be legal in California?
At this point, now that we have seen some movement from both the government and the tribes, it is safe to say we’ll see sports betting legalized sooner than later. However, the definitions of those two periods are still up for debate. It’s hoped that we will see sports betting in 2020, but a lot has to take place in order to make that happen. Best bet is that sometime in 2021, regulations will be established, and sportsbooks will open.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of California?
While we do not promote the use of offshore sportsbooks to residents of California, we also appreciate that many of our readers are still going to give them a try. So, for sake of argument, we suggest you look for sites that offer realistic bonuses and promotions (anything too good to be true typically is) and also a website that allows you multiple options for withdrawals without huge fees or small limits. It’s your money, not the sites’, so being able to access it quickly is a significant factor in what makes a great sportsbook.