What You Need to Know About California Online Casinos in 2024

Serhii Bielyi Publication byS. Bielyi

Given that California is the most populous state in the United States, online gambling would undoubtedly be a huge hit for people there. However, it still has a way to go when compared to other states in terms of online gambling options and its limits because of its laws.

Online gambling is yet to be legalized in California, including online sportsbooks, online casino games, and online poker. Until it is, online gamblers must look elsewhere, meaning that their only options are social and sweepstakes casinos.

Users who want to play their favorite table games, casino games, or online slot machines can do so at their own leisure at the increasingly popular social casinos until the state makes online gambling legal.

This guide will tell you all there is to know about online casino California, and how the California Gambling Control Commission regulates online gambling. Plus a brief history of the gambling legislation in the state of California.

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California Online Gambling Laws

Currently, the only types of gambling permitted in California are tribal casinos, the lottery, Indian bingo, pari-mutuel horse race wagering, and charitable forms such as raffles.

California does not permit real money online gambling, meaning that it is only legal for players to play at a social casino site. Such sites are predominantly for playing for fun, however, some of them award their users in the form of Sweepstakes Coins, which can be redeemed for cash prizes and gifts.

Social casinos are also popular for people who want to play online slots and other casino-style games, with some of them offering generous bonuses to their players.

Recently, bills have been introduced to legalize online gambling in California, with some gaining attention from the state’s lawmakers. Back in the state’s November 2022 ballot, residents of California voted against two propositions that would legalize sports betting online.

Retail sports betting is not legal at this time. For now, the legalization of sports betting in California is put on hold until at least 2024.

How does California Regulate Gambling?

While online gambling in California is prohibited, there are still legal forms of gambling:

  • tribal casinos
  • pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing
  • the California lottery
  • cardrooms
  • and gaming for non-profit organizations

The California Gambling Control Commission works in collaboration with the Bureau of Gambling Control in order to regulate the Golden State’s gambling industry. The California Horse Racing Board is in charge of regulating pari-mutuel wagering for horses. These authorities will also regulate online gambling when it is legalized in California.

Once online gambling in California becomes legal, players can assure their safety and security if they upkeep responsible gambling efforts and choose legal casino sites that are licensed and regulated by the California Gambling Control Commission.

Legal online casinos will offer responsible gambling facilities to Californians, and all gaming sites will undergo thorough checks by the CGCC to ensure the security and integrity of the site and its players.

Online Casino Gambling in California

There are a multitude of reasons that make it challenging to predict the future of online casinos in California. The Golden State’s tribal casinos, poker room operators, and lawmakers have varying agendas making it difficult to reach a consensus. And going off recent attempts, gambling legislation does not tend to gain much traction.

However, the future of online sports betting looks a little more optimistic than the outlook for gambling legislation. Online sports betting has seen an overwhelming growth in popularity after the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports betting.

For the best online casino-style games in California, players look to social casinos due to online gambling in California is yet to be made legal. The best online casino for Californians is WOW Vegas, which offers gamers the opportunity to play slots online, blackjack, promotional sweepstakes, and deposit bonuses.

Other social casinos in California also offer a generous deposit bonus, and casino games such as slot machines, and table games.

Californian Online Poker

California has a long history as one of America’s most popular poker states, but it does not offer legal online poker for real money. Lawmakers in California have tried to legalize online poker, but unsuccessfully. Currently, the only online poker available for Californians are social and sweepstake casinos that offer pai gow poker and other social casino games.

Californian Daily Fantasy Sports

The state of California does not regulate daily fantasy sports, however, it is tolerated in the Golden State. The state law does not address fantasy sports directly within its legislation, with all the top DFS brands operating in California accepting customers aged 18 and over.

Californian Sports Betting

Retail sports betting is not currently legal in the state of California, nor is online sports betting. Two propositions to legalize sports betting were rejected in the November ballots of 2022. Should an agreement be reached during 2023 to legalize online sports betting, then the earliest it could be implemented would be 2024.

Californian Online Horse Betting

Since 1933, wagering on horses has been legal in the state of California and is regulated by the California Horse Racing Board. Due to its popularity, California is also one of only a few states to offer legal online horse betting. Players must be the legal gambling age of 18 and older to participate.

Californian Lottery

The California State Lottery was first approved back in 1984, allowing Californians to participate in Powerball Games and the Mega Millions. Additionally, there are draw games and scratch cards available, regulated by the Lottery Commission. Players must be aged 18 and above to take part in any of the state’s lottery games.

Californian Land Based Casinos

There are 85 land-based casinos across Northern and Southern California, with the state being the largest in Indian gaming. The 85 California Indian gaming casinos are owned by 73 of the state’s 109 tribes, these are otherwise known as tribal casinos.

Some of the best California casinos include Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, Viejas Casino & Resort, and the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa. All are tribal casinos meaning no casino in California is operated by MGM Resorts International, which primarily operates casinos in Las Vegas.

History of Gambling Legislation in California

California Bans Card and Dice Banked Games

California bans banked and percentage games with cards or dice due to the enactments of the California Penal Code.

Legalization of Pari-Mutuel Horse Race Betting

On June 27, 1933, Proposition 5 was ratified by voters, authorizing pari-mutuel betting on horse racing. Following the enactment of this law in September 1933, Fairplex Park became the inaugural track in Southern California to introduce pari-mutuel wagering.

Bingo Legalized for Charitable Purposes

Bingo was legalized for non-profit charitable purposes. It is a misdemeanor for any person to receive or pay a profit, wage, or salary from any bingo game authorized by Section 19 of Article IV of the State Constitution.

State Lottery Authorized by Voters

The initiation of the California State Lottery occurred through Proposition 37, a ballot measure that received voter approval on November 6, 1984. Known as the California State Lottery Act of 1984, this legislation permits the Lottery to enhance funding for public education in California by responsibly selling lottery products.

Supreme Court Rules on Native American Gaming Rights

The Supreme Court ruled that neither local governments nor states could regulate gambling on any land belonging to Native American tribes.

Indian Gaming Regulatory Act Passed

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed, requiring Native American tribes and states to enter into an agreement allowing Native American tribes to offer specific forms of gambling.

Establishment of CGCC

CGCC was created. And The Governor of California negotiated gambling compacts with 57 recognized Native American tribes.

Expansion of Class III Gaming

Hosting of slot machines, lottery, and banked casino games allowed under the Class III Gaming Act.

Vote to Increase Slot Machines for Tribes

Residents voted in favor of allowing four tribes to increase the amount of slot machines by 17,000 units with the Class III Gaming Act.

California Online Casinos FAQ

What is the legal gambling age in California?

The legal gambling age is 18 for bingo, state lottery, and pari-mutuel horse wagering. Wagering at a casino is legal from 18, however, casinos restrict any persons below the age of 21 from entering.

Who regulates gambling in California?

Legal land-based casinos in California are legal in tribal casinos on Indian reservations. The California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) ensures each tribe remains compliant with the tribe-state compact. The California Lottery Commission and the California Horse Racing Board regulate lotteries and pari-mutuel wagering respectively.

Are online casinos legal in California?

Real money sites are yet to be legalized, however, social and sweepstakes casinos are a popular alternative in the state of California. Gamers are invited to play online slot machines and table games, without depositing a dime.

Can I win real money at online casinos in California?

While real money gambling sites are not yet permitted in California, some social casinos do allow players to win cash prizes. Some sites use ‘Sweepstake’ coins that can also be redeemed to win real money prizes.

Are gambling winnings taxable in California?

The state of California taxes all gambling winnings. Gambling winnings could bump a player up to a higher tax bracket, which would increase the amount of state tax owed. All profit below $5,000 is subject to a flat tax rate of 24%. Anything above $5,000, or any gambling winnings over 300x the original wager must be reported on a W4 tax withholding form.

Is it necessary for me to reside in California to play on online gambling sites once they become operational?

Should a California online casino become legal, residents of the Golden State will be able to participate in online casino gambling on legal and licensed websites. A player living outside of California must adhere to their state laws.

Serhii Bielyi Written by Serhii Bielyi

Serhii is an Data Scientist and SEO expert with over 11 years of experience. Since 2018, he has been the SEO Team Lead at an international marketing agency. He is also a professional poker player, specifically Texas No-Limit Hold’em, since 2019.

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