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
The hot topic in gambling in the United States. When the Supreme Court repealed the law preventing states outside Nevada from accepting legal sports bets, it opened up an opportunity for each state to make the decision at their level. Many states jumped in head-first, while other states chose a more cautious approach. The mid-term elections caused a delay for some states.
California has no current legislation, but the concept was floated back in 2017 in anticipation of PASPA being repealed. Unfortunately, to allow sports betting in California there will need to be a constitutional amendment, which may make it much longer of a process than in other states.
For the time being, there is no legal sports betting in the state, despite the climate being incredibly ripe for this activity. There is no doubt the black market bookies are continuing to do excellent business in the meantime…
Online Sports Betting
Aside from backyard bookies, California residents have only one other option when it comes to betting on sports – online sportsbooks that are operating from outside the country. This is a situation that benefits noone except the illegal operators. Both players and the state of California would be much better off passing comprehensive legislation that allows for the licensing of online sportsbooks and sports betting in casinos.
Unfortunately, there are many competing interests in the field: the Tribes, the cardrooms, the state. It might be a while before they align their objectives…
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
There has been a lot of effort to try to legalize online casinos in California, but every effort to date has fallen short, usually a result of the tribes not being able to agree on anything. So, for now, if you want to gamble on table games or slots online, you have to do so with an unregulated operator that accepts American players. This is again a bad situation for everyone involved so with movement elsewhere in the country to legalize the activity, we should hope that California sees the light and finally passes laws authorizing online casinos to operate 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?
Currently, sports betting is not legal in the state. With the changes to federal law, there is more talk about legal sports betting than ever before, but for the time being residents of California are gambling with illegal bookies or with online sportsbooks that are based in Latin America and the Caribbean.
When will sports betting be legal in California?
It’s hard to say. You would think that the state would want to move quickly on this, but given how many times it has attempted to legalize online poker without any success, we think we are in for a long battle before we see a legal sports bet. Without any mounting pressure, we do not see a bill being passed into law in California until 2020 at the earliest.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of California?
This depends on what you are looking for as an individual. One thing you may want to check is the customer service offered during the west coast primetime hours. This can be a frustration when a site not based out west doesn’t have the right amount of staff on duty to assist with any issues. In-play betting is such a huge part of the future of betting that a robust mobile platform is critical to the success of any online sportsbook.
Aside from that, look for sites that you feel the most comfortable with from an interface perspective – you are going to spend a lot of time with this site so knowing your way around without issue is a key to your overall experience.