Gambling in the US is regulated on a state basis, meaning every state is responsible for the regulation of gambling activities on its territory. California is one of the most populated states in the country, attracting a large number of tourists thanks to the various forms of entertainment one could enjoy while visiting the state.
Despite offering a vast variety of entertainment options, surprisingly, California has not legalized gambling. Unfortunately, casinos have not been allowed to launch within the territory of the Golden State and sports betting is strictly regulated. While most gambling forms are still illegal in California, there are several exceptions, allowing residents of the state to enjoy a few gambling activities.
Currently, the state of California has allowed the operation of Indian casinos, card clubs, gambling for charity causes, parimutuel horse racing betting, and state lottery. When it comes to online gambling, however, things are not as clear and many players take advantage of legal loopholes to join various websites that offer online casino and sports betting.
Gambling in California Throughout the Years
Gambling has a long history in California, with people in the state often having mixed feelings about the legalization of such activities. As the state recognized the huge interest in gambling, in 1984 a law was passed, allowing gambling establishments to be launched on the territory of the state. While this was a step towards legalizing some forms of gambling in the Golden State, these activities were strictly regulated.
The gambling establishments were allowed to offer cardrooms, raffles, state lottery, and horse racing betting. It should be noted that horse racing wagers were legalized way before that, with California allowing bets on horse races in 1933. Thanks to the legalization of this betting activity, six tracks were built across the state, enabling punters to make bets in the respective off-track establishments.
There are also several land-based casinos operating on the territories of tribal lands in California. Thanks to tribal gambling, the economy of the state was significantly boosted, bringing more tourists to the area, providing jobs to many unemployed individuals, and preserving the independence of indigenous tribes in the Golden State. This sector of legal gambling was so well-developed that in 2019 it managed to generate revenue of about $6 billion thanks to a total of 63 tribal casinos across the state.
As for online gambling, it is still an activity that has not been legalized in the state of California. That said, many residents of the Golden State resort to online casinos that operate in other states or countries. The unfortunate part is that if something were to happen while Californians play at foreign gaming websites, they will not be protected under state law.
While there were several attempts to introduce online gambling in the Golden State, they were all unsuccessful. At the moment of writing this article, it is still not allowed for operators to apply for online gaming licenses that will allow them to operate in California. This is why many residents of the state resort to other alternatives that may often be dangerous if the foreign website is not trustworthy and properly regulated.
Online Gambling Regulations
The gambling sector in California has gone through several changes to make sure that this is a strictly regulated industry. One of the main pieces of legislation that regulate gambling in the Golden State is the California Penal Code 330 PC. It provides a list of all the gambling activities that are currently illegal in the state and underlines the applicable penalties for those who do not comply with the law.
There are several exceptions that do not fall under the category of illegal gambling and have been legalized through different pieces of legislation. For instance, while casinos have not been permitted to operate in the Golden State, this does not apply to brick-and-mortar casinos located in tribal lands across the state. Currently, the other forms of gambling that have been legalized in California include cardrooms, parimutuel horse racing betting, charitable gaming, and the state lottery. While the legal age for gambling in California is 18, many brick-and-mortar casinos will only allow individuals who are 21 or older to enter as they are compliant with the federal law stating 21 is the legal age for alcohol consumption.
Online Gambling in California
We have covered the legal gambling formats in the Golden States and you may have noticed that online gambling is not among them. While land-based casinos have been allowed to operate on tribal territories, no operators can apply for an online gambling license. This means that currently there are no licensed virtual casino options for players based in the state of California.
And while the current gambling laws do not permit online gambling in California, there are also no laws against it. With no cases of individuals from California being prosecuted for playing for real money online, numerous players resort to wagering money on websites operated in other states or even foreign countries.
Despite the growing popularity of online gambling, there are no signs of California lawmakers implementing new laws to legalize online casinos soon. With tribal casino operators also showing disapproval of such amendments to the law, it is hard to hope that any legal online casinos will launch any time soon in California. While many gambling enthusiasts opt for playing on casino sites that are operating in other states or countries, one should bear in mind that in case of fraud while playing on such websites, there is no way to take legal actions as the California state law does not allow or regulate online casinos.
With California being one of the states that attract a huge number of tourists, one might assume that the laws within the Golden State are not that stringent and permit various forms of adult entertainment. Surprisingly enough, many forms of gambling still have not been legalized in California.
The legal framework of gambling in California is largely based on the Gambling Control Act (GCA). While not all gambling activities are legal within the state, there are several exceptions. Those based in California will be allowed to enjoy several forms of gambling in the tribal brick-and-mortar casinos that have been authorized to operate on tribal territories in California. In addition to that, the state has also legalized cardrooms, state lottery, parimutuel horse racing betting, and charitable gaming.
While there have been several attempts to introduce some changes to the current legal framework, California is still unsuccessful in launching legal sports betting. Online gambling is also a quite popular activity that unfortunately remains unregulated within the territory of California. While state lawmakers are having hopes for future amendments in the law, such changes may face quite a few obstacles, further postponing online gaming and betting within the Golden State.