California is home to many large and small casinos owned by Indian tribes and dozens of poker rooms.
The tribal casinos are the only establishments in the state that have what most players consider full Las Vegas style casino games. The poker rooms offer a few casino style games but they aren’t the same as the ones found in most casinos because the laws in the state restrict the ability for the house to bank games.
To clarify, the tribal casinos don’t have to follow the same non-banking rules as the poker rooms. So the casinos have regular blackjack and other games just like those found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos.
Another interesting twist to California casinos is the lack of craps and roulette games. The state doesn’t allow dice or wheels to determine the outcome of wagers so these games are illegal.
For example, in a regular game of blackjack the casino or house is the bank for the game. When you win the casino pays you and when you lose you pay the casino. The blackjack style games offered in poker rooms in California have to be banked by a player or other entity not connected to the casino.
Though this page deals with the legal issues of California online casinos and the laws in the state, nothing is offered as legal advice. I’m not a lawyer and you should always conduct your own research. Use the information on this page as a starting point for your research.
California online casinos fall into the same category as online gambling falls into in most of the rest of the United States.
It’s not illegal to play at an online casino but it isn’t clearly legal by an in state law either.
The tribal owned casinos want players to believe it’s illegal to play at online casinos and they spend a great deal of time and money fighting the possibility of laws that make online casino play clearly legal.
One area that sets California apart from other states is they have a specific law that makes craps and roulette illegal.
Almost every online casino offers both roulette and craps, so unlike other states, an argument could be made that online casinos are operating illegally by offering these games to residents of the state.
This hasn’t been tested in court and the odds of it being tested are slim. Most online casinos offering wagers to California residents are owned by companies and individuals who can’t be brought to California to face charges so it’s a waste of time to go after them.
What does all this mean for players?
Just like elsewhere in the US you should be able to play at online casinos as a California resident without worry of being arrested or charged. This doesn’t mean that at some point in the future this won’t change, but it’ll make the news if the local law enforcement agencies start arresting residents who place bets.
When they do, they should probably arrest everyone in the city government and the police department while they’re at it for taking part in the office pool for March Madness.
Though I have a page dedicated to this, it looks like California may be able to legalize online poker in the near future. The poker and casino industry is mostly separate in the state and there appears to be fairly wide support for online poker.
The state hasn’t been able to pass anything into law through 2015 but many players hope for a law in the next few years.
Where to Play
The law makers and law enforcement agencies in California haven’t been looking for online casino players and haven’t arrested or charged any of them.
From my research California residents can continue playing at online casinos without worry. The media often states that online gambling is illegal but they are either too lazy to do the proper research or just don’t care if they lie to the public, so you may see stories stating it’s illegal, but I urge you to read the laws yourself.
If you decide to start playing online take a look at the reviews section on this web site. I only recommend trusted online casinos and most of the ones I recommend accept play from California residents.
You can also play at any of the tribal casinos located in the state. While you’ll have to travel and put up with traffic and other people, you can find plenty of places to play. If you want to play craps or roulette you’ll have to either play online or travel to Nevada.
The future of California online casinos doesn’t look like it’ll change quickly.
It looks like residents will be able to continue playing at online casinos that aren’t licensed or regulated by the state but it also looks like the state won’t be putting any laws into place to make online play clearly legal.
The tribal casinos are quite powerful and have been lobbying for years against online casinos.
California has a unique set of laws about casino games that could play a pivotal role in the fight for and against online casinos in the future. While it doesn’t look like this fight will come to an end any time soon, California is a state worth watching to see not only how they handle online casinos in the future, but also how they handle online poker.
Until the time where the law makers decide to make online play clearly legal or illegal, you can continue enjoying the current online casinos serving the market.