California Gambling Laws

As the online sports betting industry goes forward with state-by-state sports betting legalization, the eyes of many State Legislators nationwide are watching the Western State closely to see which way California finally settles as the procedure unfolds and if the industry-leading style of NJ online sportsbooks can eventually become a reality on the West Coast.

A recent legislative push in 2020 in the wake of the global pandemic, for the legalization of sports wagering in the Golden State eventually proved unsuccessful. However, the Tribal Casinos are moving forward with looking to get a referendum approved for November 2022.

With an economy larger than most countries (the world’s 8th largest economy), the State of California potentially represents online betting’s single largest U.S. State market.

If California legalizes online sports betting, with an existing gaming culture with many and varied gambling options (casinos, card rooms, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), Horse Racing, Lottery and Charitable Gaming), California is set to be the standard bearer for other states to follow if lawmakers legalize sports betting.

Legality of Sports Betting VS Gambling

California has just about all gambling types covered other than sports betting and online casinos.

Options exist for players with DFS, Horse Racing, Charitable Gaming, a State Lottery, Casinos and numerous poker rooms and card clubs.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker Yes No
Horse Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes Yes
Charitable Gambling Yes No


California Gambling Tax Rate

In California, there is a no state tax on gambling winnings.

Large gambling wins over $600, however, may possibly incur Federal taxes. Contact your tax attorney for full details if you have a big win.

Sports betting Age VS Gambling Age in California

California has quite liberal minimum ages when it comes to gambling. Most gambling types have a minimum age of 18 in the state. Minimum Casinos ages vary from 18 (those casinos that don’t serve alcohol – some Tribal Casinos), through to the age of 21 for Casinos that serve alcohol.

If introduced first into Casinos, expect the minimum sports betting age to reflect that of each casino.

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Casinos 18-19 (varies)
Horse Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable Gambling 18


Betting on Sports in California

Despite the May 2018 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court (when betting on sports became legal in the U.S. at the Federal level), California still has no legal land-based sportsbooks at this early stage of the legalization process.

New Jersey led the fight to allow sports betting and they put regulations in place and began sports betting within weeks of the Supreme Court ruling, California, on the other hand, is only beginning the process that is required for state regulatory approval and may not put the topic to the state’s voter on the measure until November 2022.

California Online Sports Betting Laws

Members of California’s State Legislature and state lawmakers in general have made it no secret that the state is looking to legalize sports betting in California sooner rather than later.

In the 2017-18 fall session of the California Legislature, a bill was passed (ACA 18) in which sports betting would be legalized once the Supreme Court overturned the Federal ban.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision to rule in favor of sports betting, U.S. sports betting laws now offer the Californian lawmakers little to no impediment to legalize the practice.

Californian State lawmakers are committed to the legalization process and adopting the framework for where-and-how Californians can place wagers on their favorite sports.

Moving on to June 2020, a partisan 9-3 vote in the State House helped to pass a state constitutional amendment bill (Bill SCA-6) to legalize sports betting in California. While the bill was removed due to a lack of sufficient time to process the required regulations before a proposed November 2020 referendum on Presidential Election Day, the Tribal Casinos are moving forward with plans of their own.

California’s Tribal Casinos are continuing to collect signatures on a petition to present to the State Governor in order to have an online sports betting referendum put forward to the state’s voters with a proposed November 2022 date.

While the state has not yet ruled for online casinos in California, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and online horse & greyhound racing betting are completely legal, whilst it is also possible to play the California State Lottery online.

Online Fantasy Sports in California

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) have been determined by U.S. Federal legislators to be fully-exempt from any Federal gambling bans. This is because at the Federal level, DFS is determined to be contest of skill, rather than a gambling game of random chance.

In 2015, California was one of the first states to propose legislating on the legality of DFS competitions by introducing Bill AB 1437 into the State Legislature for debate and consideration. To September 2018, there has been little-to-no advance in the passing of the bill. Note, the bill does not exactly legalize DFS competitions, it sets the regulations by which DFS sites would need to adhere to.

While we are awaiting the Californian Attorney-General to announce on AB 1437 is in the positive and that DFS sites are legal-and-regulated, for the time-being in California, DFS sites continue to operate and accept Californian players for their real money contests.

Esports Online Betting Laws

Legalized sports betting markets worldwide already offer a range of betting markets on all the major eSports tournaments. When sports betting becomes legal in California, eSports betting will become a new fun-and-fascinating way for players to win and a driver of economic prosperity-and-development.

What are ‘eSports’?

‘eSports’ (short for electronic-sports), has transformed video game play at its highest-level into a full-time professional sport played in packed stadiums where champion players sign multi-million-dollar contracts to compete for glory. Interestingly, rather than competing for individual honors, eSports are usually played by teams and in tournament formats.

The collection of games themselves in the overarching concept of eSports are roughly equivalent to different sports types. In eSports, the games, Fortnite and Starcraft compare to NFL and NBA for example.

Betting on eSports is growing enormously in popularity and the amounts wagered on eSports is experiencing exponential growth each year. Sportsbooks worldwide offer a range of betting markets and tournaments have been transformed into global betting events with the advent of live streaming technology.

Stay tuned for updates on sports betting becoming legalized in California soon, to enjoy legal eSports betting in the Golden State ASAP.

Horse Racing in California

Horse Racing Betting (Horse racing in California is administered by the California Horse Racing Board – CHRB) for residents of the state of California and its visitors.
Horse racing wagers can be made on live races, at off-track betting facilities and online, and as a result, all of the popular horse and dog racing betting websites that operate across the United States have a presence in the state of California.

Trackside Betting

Five racetracks operate across California allow for real money wagering for players. In addition, California is also home to state-and-county-fairs that hold races at various times each year, where race betting is also perfectly legal.

Off Track Betting (OTB) in California

California is one of the most well-developed States-of-the-Union in terms of off-track betting bureaus (OTBs) with an extensive network of more than 100 outlets where it is possible to place a wager on horse-and-greyhound racing. Betting on races in California, most major racing locations worldwide and across the United States are all available.

Online Horse Racing in California

In California, as horse racing is one of the only three forms of legal online betting in the largest state economy in the United States, it is no surprise that all the major U.S. online horse racing betting sites operate in the state. All customers from the state of California can place real money bets online on horse racing (Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby etc.) 100% legally.

Visit our Gambling in California page for more information on the states online gambling laws