California’s position has historically been favorable towards gambling, which was virtually unregulated through to 1984 when the Gaming Registration Act surfaced, followed later in 1997 by the Gambling Control Act, which was established to implement statewide legal gambling regulation. Then in the fall of 2003, Proposition 1A was passed by California voters which would allow the Governor of CA to establish gaming compacts with eligible Indian Tribes. Each participating tribe in the state-tribal compacts is allowed to run two land based casinos. These casinos are regulated to ensure fair and safe gambling practices. California Online Gambling Laws have evolved over time to expand the scope of gambling opportunities in the state.
While land based gambling can be found readily in California in select Tribal areas, it is California Online Gambling alws that have allowed the industry to experience increased popularity over the last several years. The objective of this page in our guide is to provide clarity concerning which online gambling options are legal for California players and how to access the most secure and reputable options available. This guide will start by covering California online poker laws, opportunities, and then move on to other types of online gambling venues that may be in question by players. We endeavor to provide you with valuable data that will allow you to make informed decisions regarding your online gambling activities.
Where Does California Stand Concerning Online Poker
California has made several attempts to regulate online poker and currently has two bills up for consideration. In February 2013, State Senator Lou Correa proposed a bill to regulate online poker in the state of California. The bill SB 678 – Authorization and Regulation of Internet Poker and Consumer Protection Act attempts to regulate online poker in the state. The bill seeks to limit online gaming to only poker and requires the state to abstain from any federal legislation that would be enacted. The proposed bill however did not make its work its way through its committee in a timely manner. Senator Correa then made a few changes to the bill and in August 2013 reintroduced it with urgency status. Though California is yet to legalize state based and regulated online poker gaming, legally licensed and regulated online poker rooms based outside of the Untied States are still legal options for California poker players and USA players in general.
General Online Gambling Laws In California
In December 2012, State Senator Roderick Wright introduced SB 51 – Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act but it languished in the committee chaired by the Senator.
Online wagers on horse racing are permitted as California online gambling under California law. The state also accepts wagers from residents of states that do not prohibit such activities. However it is unclear whether this legislation applies to a game of skill.
There are currently no state laws specifically prohibiting California players from participating in online gambling at legally licensed and regulated gambling sites. There are also no federal laws prohibiting or criminalizing online gambling for USA players or players from California. This leaves the door open for players to participate in online gambling at a number of high quality sites which are legally based and regulated outside of the United States. The venues available at these sites include California online casinos, poker, sports betting, and even CA online bingo.
Other California Gambling Pages
California Gambling Laws Concerning Charitable and Social Gambling
California law does permit charitable gambling. Charitable gambling however is limited to bingo, poker and raffles. Charitable gambling under California law does not cover online gambling. Also there are many licensed casinos and card rooms across the state. It is legal to play poker and other card games in such licensed card rooms and casinos.
Social gambling including home poker games are legal as long as they do not break California gambling laws. A game of poker will be considered as social gambling if:
- the home owner or the host does not receive any monetary gain for hosting the game. Personal winnings do not count.
- the game offers a level playing field to all players. Every player must have an equal opportunity to win
- the game must be conducted in a private setting such as a home or a private social club.
Under California law, illegal gambling is a misdemeanor offense. Gambling includes any game of monte, faro, roulette, rouge et noire, lansquenet, tan, rondo, seven and a half, fan-tan, hokey-pokey, twenty-one or any percentage or banking game played using dice, cards or any other device for money, credit, checks or other things of value. Gambling includes playing as well as conducting a gambling event. Fines can range between $100 and $1000.
Unlike many other states that base their poker laws on the distinction between chance and skill, California poker laws are based on the rake, an odd aspect of poker. The game of poker will become a percentage game if the rake is taken as a percentage of the pot. The definition of gambling under California laws includes percentage games played using cards. However if the rake is taken in a non-percentage based structure such as a time charge or a flat rate, the game of poker will not run afoul of California gambling laws. In a nutshell, a game of poker will not be breaking California laws if it is not a percentage game. A percentage game is illegal even if the house or the host does not participate or have a stake in the game.
California law does not specifically make poker illegal. As long as the rake is not a percentage of the pot, the game is legal. If a poker game is not a percentage game, playing that game will not be illegal. But if the game is a percentage game or an illegal game under California law, even encouraging someone to take part in that game is illegal. Gambling laws in California can also vary from city to city. Each town or city may impose other restrictions on a game of poker.
The Impact of Federal Gambling Laws on California Players
The Federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act does not make participating in online gambling illegal, and more specifically this Act does not apply to players of online poker. It targets financial institutions that transfer or process funds for the purposes of online gambling stringent through regulatory oversight. There was some confusion as to whether the Federal Wire Act was applicable to online poker, however in 2011, the Department of Justice in an opinion stated that the Act applied only to sports betting. As such online poker is outside the purview of the Act. Just to be clear, neither of these pieces of legislation prohibits California online sports betting at legally licensed and regulated online sportsbooks based outside of the United States.
California Gambling Laws
The team of online gambling professionals who worked together to compile this guide consider it a priority to develop a reliable resource for players in California who are desiring to make informed decisions regarding what online gambling activities they will choose to participate in and what is legally available to them. We provide access to information regarding the online gambling laws in California, as well as a the laws which are in place on a federal level.
To review the California state laws and statutes concerning gambling, you may want to visit the State of California DOJ to find the details and content of the legislation. For professional interpretation or legal advice, we recommend that you contact a lawyer. We are not lawyers, do not hold any law degrees or legal certifications, and are not here to provide professional legal services. We are online gambling consultants who seek to inform the gambling community regarding online gambling related topics.
FAQS for California Gambling Laws
What Forms Of Gambling Are Legal In California?
California is one of the few states to have several forms of legal gambling available to its residents. Player banked card rooms are widespread throughout the state. These cards rooms the house only takes a small fee per hand and instead of playing against the house, players play against other players. This makes it legal under California law because the house does not take a percentage rake. There are over 60 Native American casinos in the state, over 21,000 lottery ticket sales locations, and various horse and greyhound tracks.
What Is Charitable Gambling?
Limited to Bingo, Poker, and raffles. Charitable Gambling is an exception to California state law that allows charity groups rather than casinos to provide these specific gambling activities and use the earnings towards charitable causes.
What Is Social Gambling?
Social gambling is another exception to the California state gambling laws that allows the private citizen to wager among a group of friends in a private home or environment. Social gambling games must offer a level playing field for all players involved, it must be conducted in a private setting and the host cannot stand to gain any profit off the event in any way outside of his or her winnings in the game itself.
What Are The Consequences For Illegal Gambling In California?
You can be charged with illegal gambling, a misdemeanor offense is the state of California, for merely showing someone where to play illegal card games. You can be fined anywhere between $100 dollars and $1000 dollars based on the severity of your offense. However, as the card rooms in the state operate, if you don’t take a percentage rake and instead take some other form of fee, you remain completely legal.
Why Does The Online Gambling Website Have To Be Located Outside Of The US To Be Legal For CA Residents?
Online gambling websites cannot acquire the appropriate regulation from within the US. Online sportsbooks are specifically made to be federally illegal, although if they are located outside of the US jurisdiction, there are no laws that would criminalize any citizen of the US for using them.
The all-in-one gambling destinations with Casinos and Racebooks also cannot find proper regulation but they have no federal laws that say that they are illegal. In fact, they are completely state regulated and legal in New Jersey, and Delaware. Because other states of yet to build the infrastructure, commissions, and organizations to able to sustain such an industry, they have yet to legalize it and thus offer regulation.