Casino Gambling in California
California Casino Guide
One look at the list of places to gamble in California and you might think we're talking about the Las Vegas strip. In California, you'll find close to 150 legal casinos and card rooms. But before you cancel your flight to Vegas or decide to close your California online casino account, consider this. Many of the legal California casinos are on Indian reservations, making them difficult to access. And the types of games offered varies depending on whether you're playing at a card room or at a casino run by Native Americans. It can get a bit confusing, so read on for everything you need to know about gambling from Los Angeles or San Diego.
Looking to gamble online? Click here to skip to the top California Casinos.
- Population: 38,341,430
- Land Size: 155,779 sq. miles
- Population 18+: 75.4%
- Gambling Age (Casinos): 18 & 21
- Gambling Age (Lottery): 18
- Number of Casinos: 144
- Popular poker player Phil Hellmuth calls California home
- With nearly 150 casinos, California gives Nevada a run for its money
- One state that could sustain an intrastate poker site on its own
- Nickname: The Golden State
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Pechanga Resort & Casino45000 Pechanga Parkway
Temecula, CA, 92592
Hustler Casino1000 W. Redondo Beach Boulevard
Gardena, CA, 90247
Fantasy Springs Resort & Casinos84-245 Indio Springs Parkway
Indio, CA, 92203
Harrah's Rincon777 Harrah's Rincon Way
Valley Center, CA, 92082
Pala Casino Resort & Spa35008 Pala Temecula Road
Pala, CA, 92049
History of California Gambling
Casino gambling in California dates back to 1933 when legalized betting on horses began with a constitutional amendment. The change in law and opinion lead to tons of horserace tracks in the state, and today you can find six big tracks plus 30 off-track betting properties.
Even though racetrack betting began back in the 1930s, it wasn't until the year 2000 that casino gambling took flight in California (which is around the same time that the world's first online casino hit the Internet). It was then that the state signed several Compacts with Native American tribes, granting them the right to legally run casinos.
Today, you can play casino games at about 150 casinos in the state - and that doesn't include the thousands of real money California online casinos that are open to the 30 million people who call California home. But not every property is created equal.
If you're into slot machines or games like roulette and craps, you're out of luck. In California's card club casinos, only games that use cards or require skill are permitted. That means you'll find games like Pai Gow Poker, Three Card Poker, Baccarat, and Blackjack, but you won't find games like Roulette or Craps.
So what do you do if you're a California casino player with a passion for games of chance? Don't worry. The state's Native American Reservations have you covered. Thanks to the Compacts they negotiated with the state government, California gamblers can play games that don't require any skill. So if you're an online casino player who is used to gambling at craps or roulette online, you've got options in the land-based world. But don't get ready to blow on the dice quite yet. These casinos use dealt cards to determine the dice roll instead of letting the players roll the dice.
Casino Gambling Age Restrictions
Figuring out the gambling age in California can be a bit confusing. That's because it often varies from property to property, depending on what they offer. To gamble in California, you need to be 18 years old. But with many casino properties serving alcohol, the gambling requirement is raised to 21. So before you jump over to just any California casino, check the legal gambling age first. If you're interested in playing exclusively at California online casinos, you're good to go if you're at least 18 years old.
Famous California Gamblers
You can't talk about famous California gamblers without talking about poker players. The state is home to dozens of millionaire poker players who mastered their game at California online casinos and poker sites. Phil Hellmuth is one of the big ones. While he was actually born in Wisconsin, Hellmuth has called Palo Alto, California home for years. He has over $15 million in poker winnings to his name, including a record 13 World Series of Poker bracelets.
The State of Online Gambling in California
There's a big debate on whether individual states creating their own interstate casino sites could actually survive on their own. After all, some states have populations as low as a few million (and some have even less). Around 25% of the population in those states is likely under the age of 18. And only a small fraction of the remaining 75% is made up of gamblers.
But California is different. With a population of 30 million, a state-licensed online casino program would be a sure bet. But, so far, the government has failed to pass a bill that would make California online casinos and poker sites legal. That has a lot to do with the Native American casinos. A bill would likely need their support, and anything that will lead to a decline in their business won't get any kind of support from the tribes.
The Future of California Gambling
As more and more states look towards online casino licensing as a way to dig their way out of the economic crisis, you can bet California will follow. But, as we mentioned, passing any type of gambling legislation won't be easy, especially considering most of the casino properties in California are operated by Native American Reservations. They'd want to operate the California online casinos themselves, or they'd want a giant piece of the pie.
But even without legislation, gamblers from LA, San Jose or San Francisco are free to play at online casinos. California residents have access to the world's top online casinos. And because they're operated entirely out of state, they can offer every type of casino game - including games of chance.
Gambler's Note: California casino laws are always changing. The information on this page is for informational purposes only. Always consult California state law and local regulations before playing at an California online gambling site.
California Office of Problem GamblingThe California Office of Problem Gambling offers a website dedicated to helping Californians recognize and rehabilitate from problem gambling.
California CPGThe California Council on Problem Gambling is a non-profit organization that assists problem gamblers and their families, providing resources for recognition, treatment and more.
CA.gov Office of the Attorney GeneralThis website has a great list of resources, which can help people recognize problem gambling and get help.
CA.gov Responsible Gambling