Sports Betting in California is not yet legal and licensed but there is good news ahead. The Golden State, has tried to regulate online betting multiple times in the past and are likely to try again soon.
As the biggest state in the US by far, it’s inclusion in authorizing regulated sports wagering in California would mean an approximate $2.5 billion market.
However, the state is heavily dominated by tribal casinos and the political landscape is complicated, which means that the efforts to legalize online sports betting have met great opposition.
For now, all online betting is made on offshore casinos or on Daily Fantasy Sports, which is legal since it hasn’t been classified as real money gambling.
To bet on sports in California isn’t prohibited, it is not expressly regulated either, which makes it a grey area at best.
Table of Contents
Online Sports Betting California Updates
While industry experts say that there won’t be any change in California sports betting legislation soon, there has been some developments recently.
When and if online will become legalized in the Golden State sportsbook operators such as BetMGM, DraftKings and William Hill, together with all the other major online sportsbooks, are likely to apply for CA online sports betting licenses.
BetMGM is one the fastest growing sportsbooks in the US and likely to enter California once there is a licensing process in place for sports gambling. Read our BetMGM California review.
FanDuel needs no further introduction. The kings of DFS and sportsbook (where legalized) are just like DraftKings almost guaranteed to enter the market once regulators authorize sports online.
DraftKings is widely known in California through their DFS product. Their sportsbook will most certainly be one of the first to open up for CA customers. Read our DraftKings California review.
William Hill is one of the most active sportsbook brands in the US with casino sportsbook partnerships all across the US. William Hill is one of the UKs oldest and most well established sportsbooks with over 100 years of history of sports betting. Read our William Hill California review.
California Sports Betting Hearing – January 8th, 2020
On January 8th, California took a great leap towards opening up the discussion about legal sports wagering in the Golden State. The Joint Assembly and Senate Governmental Organization Committees held a meeting in the state capital, where they invited industry experts to discuss what a legal California sports betting market could look like.
Research expert Chris Grove said that the California market could be worth $2.5 billion per year given that mobile sports betting would be included. However, Grove tweeted after the hearing that he could “feel” the obstruction in the room, and that he didn’t believe that California would legalize online betting in the near future.
Tribal Casinos File Sports Betting Authorisation Ballot Measure – November 2019
A coalition of 18 tribes put in a ballot measure that would legalize sports betting subject to state-wide approval. The measure would authorize sports betting and horse wagering at tribal casinos with a 10% tax rate on gross win. This measure would not include mobile betting.
Bill Dodd Sports Betting Bill Introduction – June, 2019
Senator Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray introduced the constitutional amendment bill ACA 16, to the legislature. The bill would authorize sports betting subject to state-wide voter approval. The California Nations Indian Gaming Association opposed the regulation of sports wagering until their monopoly on card games was restored.
California Online Sportsbooks Amendment Proposal – July, 2017
Gray proposed an amendment to authorize betting in California provided that PASPA would be repealed. The amendment would be accepted subject to a two-thirds majority vote before it could be placed on a ballot for the next referendum.
Daily Fantasy Sports Authorization – January 2016
Adam Gray introduced the AB 1437 bill that regulated and authorized Daily Fantasy Sports. The bill passed unanimously in January 2016 and have regulated DFS since.
What Kind of Gambling is Legal in California?
As of now, there are a few options available for gambling in California:
- Charitable Gambling
- Pari-mutuel Horse Wagering
- Daily Fantasy Sports (contested wether legal or not)
- Indian Gaming
Card rooms are very popular and within California state borders there are close to 70 card rooms venues (the number of card rooms vary over time but is stable between 60-70). These card rooms offer non-banked poker, Pai gow, Blackjack, Baccarat and Chinese poker and Panguingue.
Non profit organizations can offer raffles, bingo games and poker nights.
Pari-mutuel Horse Wagering
Pari-mutuel wagering pools all bets made on a race and distributes winnings from the pool. This is currently the only way of real money sports betting in California.
Daily Fantasy Sports
DFS is not regulated as interactive gaming, and is therefore not prohibited in California. This makes it possible to bet on sports, without the element of real money. This is a good choice for players that are interested in other sports than horse racing.
Native American tribes can offer casino gambling and there are currently over 60 casino venues operated by California tribes which means that all casino gambling is operated by native American tribes.
California State Lottery
The lottery offers scratchcard and draw games. You can buy tickets to interstate Mega Millions and Powerball draws through the California state lottery.
Travel to Vegas
A more serious, betting alternative is to actually drive to Las Vegas which is a fairly close destination. As the gambling capital in the world, Vegas offers wagering on casino slots and table games and sports in their casino venues, and it is a simple weekend destination if you are interested in betting on sports in California.
The Future of Betting on Sports in California
There is an interesting battle going on for the sports betting legalization in California.
Both the state and the native tribes in the state are keen to get exclusive rights to sports betting, and the coalition of tribes that proposed a measure in November 2019 might be the closest option at the moment.
However, since they didn’t include mobile betting in their bill, the market size would not reach the $2.5 billion that is up for grabs. The question remains unanswered until further proceedings from the legislature.
As any bill would need a supermajority of two-thirds, there will be a lot of legislative work to form a consensus before we will see any real progress.
Yes, gambling is legal at Tribal Casinos, card establishments and horse tracks. There is also a legal state lottery in California.
No. Pari-mutuel horse wagering and Daily Fantasy Sports are the only legal betting options in California.
As more US states are opening up for legal sports betting, land-based and online, California is likely to follow suit. A reasonable guesstimate is sometime in 2022 but could be earlier or later.
Yes, at tribal casinos
Yes, there is no legislation prohibiting DFS