California’s imprint on the casino industry in the United States is unmistakable. Thirty years ago, the US Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in favor of the state’s Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, which led to the IGRA, or Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This is why tribal casinos exist today. As of 2020, there are 69 tribal casinos in CA that pull in billions of dollars a year for the tribes involved, and hundreds of millions in tax revenues for the state.
As such, Californians have become accustomed to having tribal casinos as an integral part of their economy and entertainment, though commercial casinos are not legal in the state.
The next big boom in the state’s gambling market will likely happen over the Internet, but the timeline for legal California online casinos is unclear. However, that doesn’t mean that CA residents can’t legally play online casino games hosted by international venues operating outside of US jurisdiction, and this short guide will explain exactly how to do that.
Are Online Casinos Legal In California?
Yes, but not domestically. You can only gamble legally over the Internet in California by signing up with an international online casino that operates outside of US borders. While casino gambling is legal in the state at both Class II and Class III tribal venues, none of these is allowed to offer online options.
There has been talk of legalizing iGaming in the state, but because of the complexity of the CA tribal compacts – and due to the tribes’ exclusive gambling rights in the Golden State – progress has been extremely slow. You should not expect legal online California casinos to operate in a domestic capacity any time soon.
On the other hand, there are no California online gambling laws or federal United States gambling laws which directly prohibit residents of CA from enjoying online casino gambling provided by legally licensed and regulated offshore gambling destinations, and these services are available to all California residents aged 18 and up.
Legally Licensed Online Casinos Accepting California Players
When it comes to legal online CA casinos, you actually have several excellent options. Each of the brands listed below are fully licensed and regulated in international gambling jurisdictions, have been serving Golden State gamblers for years, and are perfectly legal to use for anyone in the state.
Additionally, most of these sites accept CA players at just 18, which gives many gamblers a three-year head start compared to most Class III tribal casinos and the options available nearby in Las Vegas.
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Other California Gambling Pages
What Casino Games Can I Play Online?
All the top Internet gambling operators offer the same types of casino games that you can play at brick-and-mortar casino destinations. The titles are all developed by top RNG (random number generation) software firms, and they’re regularly audited by industry watchdogs to ensure fair play compliance. At any reputable online CA betting site, you can expect to find the following casino games:
- Slots (3-reel, 5-reel, progressive jackpot)
- Roulette (American and European)
- Mini-baccarat (aka Super 6)
- Video poker
- + More!
Online slots (or online electronic slots) typically have the most variety, with hundreds of games to choose from. This, of course, is fitting for California casinos, as the modern slot machine was invented in San Francisco way back in 1894.
Slots aside, the RNG table games on offer also feature a hefty menu to choose from, with the best betting sites offering dozens of variants for fans of the digital felts.
Most of our recommended providers also host live dealer casino games, which allow you to “sit” at real tables and play with real dealers in real time. You’ll have access to a live video feed, and you can even chat with the house and other players while you gamble!
Can I Play Online For Free?
Yes! Free play options are essential for all first-time online CA gamblers, as demo or practice modes allow beginners to become acclimated to the online gaming environment. In fact, playing the free casino games at these sites is something we recommend even if you’re familiar with the typical games offered at physical casinos.
These options also allow CA players to understand the dynamics of specific casino games without risking any of their own money, and most sites allow you to play for free without even having to make an initial deposit.
To play free casino games at online California casinos, simply select the game you’re interested in and click or tap on the “Practice” or “Demo” button. Then, when you’re ready to win real money, just make a deposit and play for all the marbles.
Are There Online Casino Bonuses For CA Players?
Every notable provider in the online gambling industry competes with all the other sites to see who can offer the most lucrative bonus packages to incentivize players to sign up.
The most common online casino bonus options are deposit match promos, where your site will boost your bankroll by a certain percentage of the money you put in. Reload bonuses, refer-a-friend bonuses, and weekly game-specific bonuses are also commonly available.
To get the best bonuses, we recommend depositing with Bitcoin or another supported cryptocurrency, as these come with enhanced bonuses that double or even triple the amount of free-plays you’ll earn every time you top off your bankroll.
All online gambling bonuses are 100% optional and come with easy-to-understand (and easy-to-meet!) terms and conditions, so you’ll always know exactly which betting promo is right for you.
What Online Casino Banking Options Are Available?
The most popular banking options for deposits and withdrawals at all online gambling websites are now cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Stellar, Bitcoin Cash, and others. Most California online casinos even incentivize players for Bitcoin gambling and other crypto gambling by dishing out enhanced bonuses.
There are also more traditional deposit and withdrawal options by which to fund your bets. These include the following:
- American Express
- International Gift Cards
- Bank Wires
- Cashier’s Checks
- Money Orders
- Person-to-Person Transfers
- QB Direct
While credit and debit cards offer the easiest access (since everyone in California – and everywhere else – has a wallet or purse full of them), these are sometimes declined due to UIGEA banking regulations.
Other methods like bank wires and checks have better success rates, but they also take 2-5 days to show up in your betting account, which can be less than ideal for many CA gambling fans.
When choosing a withdrawal option, please make sure to pay attention to the details, as some methods will have fees associated with them and processing times that can range from just a few minutes to a week or more.
Crypto (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc.) is the only deposit option that boasts instant transfers, comes with no added fees, and has high limits perfect for the most players. Also, BTC and other cryptos are the only way to claim same-day payouts from the best online California gambling sites.
Are Mobile California Casino Apps Available?
Not as such, but you can play all the games offered by any CA gambling operator listed here via any modern mobile device. And that makes sense. After all, these days, everything is accessible from your smartphone or tablet, and California is the spiritual home for these gizmos.
That said, the reason you won’t find an iPhone casino app or Android casino app on the App Store or in Google Play is because Apple and Google corporate policies don’t allow international gambling products on their storefronts.
But as stated, you don’t need them, as every major CA online casino offers mobile-optimized web app interfaces that don’t require any downloads in order to play.
To access the mobile casino at your site of choice, simply log in from your mobile and enjoy gambling on the go, from the sandy beaches of SoCal to the majestic canopies of the Redwood Forest. As long as you have a network connection, you can gamble on the go, anytime, anyplace.
When Will California Legalize Online Casinos?
Many states have adopted sports betting legislation since PASPA was overturned, and a few have also taken the opportunity to offer legalized online casino gaming, as well.
Currently, iGaming is available in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and two other states have legalized the pastime but haven’t made it available yet. New York is a potential market for this, as is California. However, in the case of CA, there has been no legislative movement in that direction outside of a few informal rumors.
Sports betting seems to be more of a priority to many states, and we expect CA to legalize domestic online sportsbooks long before they enter the online casino market.
California’s Views on Casino Gambling From The Beginning
California’s gambling climate was controlled by the underfunded and extremely limited scope of the Attorney General’s office before 1998. Although the 1984 “Gaming Registration Act” required uniform regulation for all casinos in the state, those limitations of the office resulted in casinos operating almost entirely unregulated.
It wasn’t until 2000 when California residents voted to allow casino-style Class III gaming on tribal land (which had before been limited to Class II operations) that the industry become fully recognized and regulated.
The latest change in the laws came about in 2007 when the CA Attorney General changed the “Division of Gambling Control” to the “Bureau of Gambling Control,” giving it a wider reach and a position within the Department of Justices’ Division of Law Enforcement.
Land-Based Casinos In California
- Pechanga Resort & Casino – Temecula, CA
- Cache Creek Casino Resort – Brooks, CA
- San Manuel Casino – Highland, CA
- Thunder Valley Casino – Lincoln, CA
- Viejas Casino & Turf Club – Alpine, CA
- Morongo Casino Resort & Spa – Cabazon, CA
- Pala Casino Resort & Spa – Pala, CA
- Red Hawk Casino – Placerville, CA
- Barona Casino & Resort – Lakeside, CA
- Table Mountain Casino – Friant, CA