California Casinos & Gambling

California Regulated Gambling:

Pari-Mutuel/Horse Racing 1933

Card Rooms 1872

Charity Games 1976

Lotteries 1984

Tribal Casinos 2000

Gambling Age in California:

All Gambling 18+ (21+ where alcohol is served)

California Land-Based Facilities:

Tribal Casinos 66

Card Rooms (licenses) 86

California

California Gambling Overview

Known as ‘The Golden State,’ California borders the Pacific Ocean on the west coast.

Article IV of the California Constitution makes most gambling forms illegal. However, some exceptions which permit gambling exist and are regulated by the state or Native American tribes. These include bingo, horse race wagering, pari-mutuels, lotteries, card rooms, and tribal casinos. California does not have any online gaming legislation, and non-sports betting and mobile gambling are prohibited.

Legal forms of gambling mainly fall under legislation concerning the Gambling Control Act (GCA) (California Business and Professions Code §§ 19800 et seq. (West)).

California has no state law that explicitly defines gambling. Still, case law has determined the three elements necessary to constitute gambling. These include a prize, awarded through an event of chance in exchange for a consideration.

Card Rooms

No explicit laws prohibit poker in California since it’s considered a game where players compete against each other rather than the bank (which would otherwise be illegal). Poker is legally permitted at tribal casinos and card rooms. Not-for-profit poker games are also legally allowed. At present, there are 86 facilities that are licensed to offer card rooms.

Lotteries

Lotteries in California were legalized in 1984 after a state referendum. The California State Lottery runs statewide lotteries (draw games and scratch cards). Participation in interstate lotteries such as Mega Millions games and Powerball is also possible.

Social Gaming

No specific laws exist for social gaming in California. Still, it is legal, provided that there is no prize consideration and is a game of skill. Defining social gaming as a skill game has been challenged in federal courts but shot down each time.

Charity Games

California Penal Code § 326.5(o) defines bingo as a game of chance with prizes. Furthermore, a player must have a tangible card with symbols or numbers. These are marked or covered, corresponding to numbers randomly drawn and announced by a live caller. Aside from bingo, charity raffles and poker are also permitted.

Horse Racing and Pari-Mutuel

Horse race wagering and pari-mutuel wagering are governed by California Horse Racing laws. They are the only legal forms of sports betting, set out in the California Business and Professions Code §§ 19590-603. Pari-mutuel wagering on horses is allowed online, at off-betting facilities and racetracks.

Land-Based Casinos in California

Commercial casinos in California are unlawful, and in recent years no attempts have been made to change this. However, there are presently 66 tribal casinos scattered throughout the state. Regulations, limitations, and terms concerning tribal casinos are set out in compacts between the state of California and individual tribes. Tribes work with the CGCC to develop regulations in line with the tribe–state compacts.

Tribal Casinos Address Website
Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs 140 North Indian Canyon Drive – Palm Springs, California 92262 www.sparesortcasino.com
Agua Caliente Casino Rancho Mirage 32-250 Bob Hope Drive – Rancho Mirage, California 92270 www.hotwatercasino.com
Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City 68960 E Palm Canyon Dr – Cathedral City, CA 92234 www.aguacalientecasinos.com/cc/
Desert Rose Casino 901 County Road 56 – Alturas, CA 96101 www.desertrosecasino.net
Augustine Casino 84-001 Avenue 54 at Van Buren – 3 Miles East of PGA West Coachella, California 92236 www.augustinecasino.com
Barona Resort & Casino 1932 Wildcat Canyon Road Lakeside, CA 92040 www.barona.com
Bear River Casino 11 Bear Paws Way Loleta, CA 95551 www.bearrivercasino.com
Gold Country Casino 4020 Olive Highway Oroville, CA 95966 www.goldcountrycasino.com
Mono Wind Casino 37302 Rancheria Lane – Auberry, California 93602-1060 www.monowind.com
Konocti Vista Casino Resort, Marina & RV Park 2755 Mission Rancheria Road – Finley, CA 95435 www.konocti-vista-casino.com
Wanaaha Casino 2742 North Sierra Highway – Bishop, California 93514 www.wanaaha.com
Blue Lake Casino 777 Casino Way – Blue Lake, CA 95525 www.bluelakecasino.com
Harrah’s Northern California Casino 4650 Coal Mine Road, Ione, California 95640 www.caesars.com/harrahs-northern-california
Fantasy Springs Casino 84-245 B Indio Springs Dr., Indio CA 92203. www.fantasycasino.net
Colusa Casino Resort 3770 Highway 45 – Colusa, California 95932-1267 www.colusacasino.com
Red Fox Casino & Bingo 200 Cahto Drive Laytonville, California 95454 www.redfoxcasino.net
Cahuilla Casino 52702 Highway 371 – Anza, California 92539 www.cahuillacasino.com
Golden Acorn Casino 1800 Golden Acorn Way – Campo, CA 91906 www.goldenacorncasino.com
Havasu Landing Resort & Casino 1 Main Street – Havasu Lake, California 92363 www.havasulandingresortcasino.com
Cher-Ae Heights Bingo & Casino 27 Scenic Drive – Trinidad, California 95570-9767 www.cheraeheightscasino.com
Chicken Ranch Casino 16929 Chicken Ranch Road – Jamestown, California 95327-9779 www.chickenranchcasino.com
Coyote Valley Casino 7751 North State Street – Redwood Valley, CA 95418 www.coyotevalleycasino.com
River Rock Casino 3250 Highway 128 East – Geyserville, California 95441 www.riverrockcasino.com
Elk Valley Casino 2500 Howland Hill Road – Crescent City, California 95531-9241 www.elkvalleycasino.com
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento At Fire Mountain 3317 Forty Mile Road, Wheatland, CA, 95682 www.hardrockhotelsacramento.com/casino
Graton Resort & Casino 288 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park, CA 94928 www.gratonresortcasino.com
Running Creek Casino 635 E. Highway 20 – Upper Lake, CA 95485 www.runningcreekcasino.com
Lucky Bear Casino Shopping Center, Highway 96 – Hoopa, CA 95546 www.hoopa-nsn.gov/enterprises/lucky-bear-casino
Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino & Bingo 13101 Nokomis Road – Hopland, California 95449-9725 www.shokawah.com
Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort 12222 New York Ranch Road – Jackson, California 95642 www.jacksoncasino.com
Jamul Casino 14145 Campo Road – Jamul, CA 91935 www.jamulcasinosd.com
Rain Rock Casino 777 Casino Way, Yreka, CA 96097 www.rainrockcasino.com
Garcia River Casino 22215 Windy Hollow Road – Point Arena, CA 95468 www.thegarciarivercasino.com
Twin Pine Casino 22223 Highway 29 – Middletown, California 95461-9754 www.twinpine.com
Feather Falls Casino & Lodge 3 Alverda Drive – Oroville, California 95966-9379 www.featherfallscasino.com
Morongo Casino Resort Spa 49750 Seminole Drive – Cabazon, California 92230-2200 www.morongocasinoresort.com/casinomorongo
Pala Casino Spa Resort 11154 Highway 76 – Pala, California 92059 www.palacasino.com
Rolling Hills Casino 2655 Barham Avenue – Corning, California 96021 www.rollinghillscasino.com
Casino Pauma 777 Pauma Reservation Road – Pauma Valley, California 92061 www.casinopauma.com
Pechanga Resort & Casino 45000 Pala Road – Temecula, California 92592-5810 www.pechanga.com
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino 711 Lucky Lane – Coarsegold, California 93614 www.chukchansigold.com
Pit River Casino 20265 Tamarack Avenue – Burney, California 96013-4064 www.pitrivercasino.com
Quechan Casino Resort 525 Algodones Road – Winterhaven, CA 92283 www.playqcr.net
Win-River Casino 2100 Redding Rancheria Road – Redding, California 96001-5530 www.winriver.com
Harrah’s Resort Southern California 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way – Valley Center, CA 92082 www.caesars.com/harrahs-socal
Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino 1545 East Highway 20 – Nice, California 95464-8619 www.rrrc.com
San Manuel Casino 777 San Manuel Blvd, Highland, CA 92346 www.sanmanuel.com
Valley View Casino 16300 Nyemii Pass Road – Valley Center, California 92082 www.valleyviewcasino.com
Tachi Palace Casino Resort 17225 Jersey Avenue – Lemoore, California 93245-9760 www.tachipalace.com
Chumash Casino Resort 3400 East Highway 246 – Santa Ynez, California 93460-9405 www.chumashcasino.com
Sherwood Valley Casino 100 Kawi Place – Willits, California 95490-4674 www.svrcasino.com
Red Hawk Casino 1 Red Hawk Boulevard – Placerville, CA 95667 www.redhawkcasino.com
Soboba Casino 22777 Soboba Road – San Jacinto, CA 92583 www.soboba.com
Diamond Mountain Casino 900 Skyline Drive – Susanville, California 96130 www.dmcah.com
Sycuan Casino 5469 Casino Way, El Cajon, CA 92019 www.sycuan.com
Table Mountain Casino 8184 Table Mountain Road – Friant, California 93626 www.tmcasino.com
Lucky 7 Casino 350 North Indian Road – Smith River, California 95567 www.lucky7casino.com
Red Earth Casino 3089 Norm River Road Salton Sea Beach, CA 92274 www.redearthcasino.com
Eagle Mountain Casino 681 South Reservation Road Porterville, CA 93257 www.eaglemtncasino.com
Black Oak Casino 19400 Tuolumne Road North – Tuolumne, California 95379-9724 www.blackoakcasino.com
Spotlight 29 Casino I-10 at Dillon Road – 46-200 Harrison Place Coachella, California, 92236 www.spotlight29.com
Tortoise Rock Casino 73829 Base Line Rd – Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 www.tortoiserockcasino.com
Thunder Valley Casino 1200 Athens Avenue – Lincoln CA 95648 www.thundervalleyresort.com
Viejas Casino 5000 Willows Road – Alpine, California 91901 www.viejas.com
Cache Creek Casino 14455 Highway 16 – Brooks, California 95606-0065 www.cachecreek.com
Redwood Hotel Casino 171 Klamath Blvd – Klamath, CA 95548 www.redwoodhotelcasino.com

California Gambling History

Non-banked card games, including poker, were considered legal since 1872 by virtue of the fact that they were excluded from mention in the Constitution as prohibited gambling forms.

A voter referendum in 1933 legalized horse race wagering, followed by off-track betting at fairgrounds in 1985, off-track betting elsewhere in 2008, and online race betting in 2002.

In 1984, a voter referendum approved the California State Lottery. A decade later, in 1995, a moratorium on card rooms started that only ended in 2020.

The California Constitution was amended in 1976 to legalize charitable bingo. There were further amendments in 2000 to allow raffles and again in 2007 to enable charity poker.

In 2000, Proposition 1A amended the California constitution to allow tribal casinos to offer slots and card games on Native land.

In 2018, The US Supreme Court struck down The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (1992), allowing individual states to decide whether to legalize sports betting.

The last few years have seen several failed attempts to legalize online poker and other online games. Sen Bill Dodd attempted to introduce legislation in 2020 (Bill ACA 16) to legalize sports betting through a referendum. He was forced to retreat after opposition from California’s tribal casino operators.

Before that, Assembly Bill 2863 was introduced in 2016, which would legalize online poker. It ran into opposition from horse racing and state tribes, both fearing the potential loss of revenue.

California Gambling FAQ

Are Tribal Casinos or Commercial Casinos legal in California?

California only allows tribal casinos in the state.

Are winnings at land-based casinos subject to tax in California?

No, there are no California tax laws. However, all gambling winnings are subject to federal income tax.

Is state lotteries or interstate lotteries legal in California?

Yes, California offers state and interstate lotteries.

Is sports betting legal in California?

No, sports betting is not legal in California.

What gambling forms in California are legal?

California permits charity games, tribal casinos, pari-mutuel & race betting, lotteries, card rooms, and social gambling.

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