Gambling Laws In California


California’s stand has often been favorable in relation to gambling, the sector remained virtually unregulated until 1984 when the first Gaming Registration Act came up, followed in 1997 by a Gambling Control Act. This was created to implement a statewide gambling regulation. At the fall of the year 2003, the Proposition 1-A was passed which allowed the Governor to establish gambling compacts with selected eligible Indian Tribes. The participating tribes are only allowed to run 2 land-based casinos. California gambling laws have changed over time, they have offered a wider scope of gambling opportunities at the state.

Types of Legal and Illegal Gambling in California.

Every gambling activity is regulated on a state level in the U.S. In California, some, but not all types of gambling activities are illegal. To be more specific, playing, conducting, or dealing any of the following games is considered illegal within the state:

  • -Faro
  • -Roulette.
  • -Lansquenet.
  • -Rondo.
  • -Tan.
  • -Fan-tan.
  • -Twenty-one.
  • -Hokey pokey.
  • -Percentage or banking games played using dice or cards.

The California law generally accepts the following forms of gambling: the Indian casinos, card-clubs, pari-mutuel horse wagering, state lottery, and charitable gaming.

1). Indian Casinos - Are often fashioned after Las-Vegas casinos, they are casinos that have banked games like poker, blackjack, and slot machines. They are restricted as Tribal Casinos located within Indian Land. 
2). Card-clubs - They differ from Vegas style casinos as they most of their revenue comes from charging users fees to play. The players bet against each other instead of the “house.”
3). Pari-mutuel Horse wagering - Pari-mutuel betting, is a form of gambling in which the players bets are pooled together so that they play against each other instead of the “house.” Once management fees and taxes are subtracted, the pool is shared amongst the winners.

In California, Pari-mutuel gambling is only permitted in the horse racing context.
4). Charitable Gambling - California's, charitable gambling are games of bingo to which the winning proceeds go to charity. Often hosts of such games are charities themselves.

Note that in California bingo is the only permitted game. 
5). State Lottery - California manages a state lottery & offers different games including Super lotto plus and Mega Millions.


Gambling Age Limits.

California has a very diverse set of Legal Gambling Ages. State laws have adapted in many ways in different locations. Every individual bingo hall, casino, online gambling site, or racetrack has adopted the policy of setting their own legal gambling as long as it is above 18. Though legally set at 18, other gambling halls have raised it to 20 or even 21.


Online Gambling in California.

In california there are no current laws that specifically prohibit gamblers from engaging in online gambling at any regulated and licensed gambling sites.The venues for online gambling include Online casinos, sport betting, porker, and California online bingo.


Cryptocurrencies And Bitcoin Gambling in California.

A while back, some social gaming halls that offered cryptocurrency gambling/mining were raided by police and many computers confiscated. Questions arose as to whether such social gaming halls had been operating outside the law. It however came up that most proceeds from winnings were being exchange into U.S Dollars.

The U.S. tax code views digital currency conversions to U.S. legal tender as a taxable process. That is why the raids took place as no tax returns were made. It is unclear where legal issues start & end for such digital gambling /mining, both for the users and the businesses.

Only time will tell.


Consequences Of Illegal Gambling In California?

One can be charged for illegal gambling, it is considered a misdemeanor offense in California. For example, merely showing anyone where to engage in illegal card games, one can be liable for a fine ranging anywhere from $100 to $1000 based on severity of the offense.

However, there is existence of card rooms within the state, if you do not take a percentage rake & instead other forms of fee, one remains completely legal.



There is no doubt that the state of California has some of the most progressive and liberal gambling environments. The migration online and towards Cryptocurrencies is hotly anticipated by regulators and the Brick & Mortar establishments that are in line for licensing purposes. Any forthcoming liquidity sharing deals could produce a more enticing gambling environment.

However, one major obstacle to be overcome is tribes involvement. The tribes have had gambling casinos in California for decades & have often felt the need to be offered responsibility for gambling licenses too.

At the meantime, the people of California are free to enjoy their gambling in about every possible way.

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