HomeNHL Betting

NHL betting in California

You may not hear “hockey” and think “California,” but make no mistake - the NHL is only growing in popularity in CA. The Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks are teams on the rise loaded with young talent that should be in the playoff mix over the next few seasons.

| Last Updated:
Table of contents

NHL betting in California is still prohibited, but the opportunity once state laws change is immense. In preparation for potential legalization, we’ve put this piece together to inform future CA gamblers about what the market for hockey gambling will look like, including what apps could be available, how to read the odds, and tips for when you’re preparing to make your wagers.

Best expected California betting apps for NHL

When sports gambling arrives in the state, we expect these California betting apps to be the best options for NHL action (in no specific order).

FanDuel California


FanDuel is a very intuitive app, making it a high-quality option for new users. It is supremely navigable and it may already carry some familiarity for Californians through its daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests. You can already participate in NHL-related DFS events on FanDuel as the state has not blocked daily fantasy sports.

DraftKings California


Like FanDuel, DraftKings already has entered California through its DFS platform. DK is an excellent choice for live/in-play betting (more on that later) with a wide range of markets available even after puck drop.

BetMGM California


Rounding out our Top 3 is BetMGM, which balances player-friendly lines, a top-notch rewards program, and frequent bonuses that can enhance your winnings on NHL wagers. We’ve found BetMGM’s customer support team to be among the best in the business.

How could I bet on the NHL online in California?

After the legalization and launch of sports betting in California, here is how you’ll be able to bet on the NHL online.

  1. Learn more about the legal betting sites: CASportsBettingSites.com will only list the legitimate, licensed operators on our pages. When we know what sportsbooks will be approved for launch in California, we will have written comprehensive reviews of each site/app, including an overall score based on key performance areas, information about bonuses, and strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Get registered: The easiest way to register will be directly through the links provided in the sportsbook reviews. This will also guarantee you the best available welcome bonus offer. To register, you will need to provide the sportsbook(s) with your legal first and last name, date of birth, email address, phone number, street address (no P.O. boxes), and the last four digits of your social security number. This will be used to verify your identity and betting eligibility.
  3. Make a deposit: Making a real-money deposit using an approved payment method is the last step in claiming your welcome bonus. You won’t be able to use a promo until there is money in your account. Typically, you’ll be able to use PayPal or a debit card to make a deposit. You can also link to your bank account directly, or choose from several other methods that vary by operator.
  4. Research upcoming matchups and opponents: After you’ve made your deposit, you’ll want to take a look at important statistics, injury reports, team schedules, recent head-to-head results, and betting line movement, among other insights, to help you find matchups with good betting value and favorable odds.
  5. Place your bets: To place your bets, make sure you’re logged into the sportsbook website or mobile app and have enough funds to play the wager you want to make. Tap on the game to open up the list of available markets, then again on the outcome you’re backing. Finally, choose a wager amount and submit the bet, hopefully becoming a winner shortly thereafter!

How do you read NHL odds?

Reading NHL odds may seem intimidating to new players, but with a little practice, you’ll be a pro in no time!

The first thing to consider when looking at NHL odds is whether there is a “+” sign or a “-” sign next to the line. The “+” sign indicates the betting underdog, which is the less likely outcome but it offers a higher payout if you win. Conversely, the “-” sign indicates the betting favorite (the more likely outcome).

Next, look at the number that comes after the symbol (this is the part that tends to trip people up). The number after the “+” sign indicates how much money you would win on a $100 wager. However, the number a “-” sign tells you how much money you would need to wager to win $100.

It’s important to know you do not need to wager $100 when making your bets. You can wager any amount you wish, with the profits remaining proportional to the size of your stake.

In rare instances where two outcomes are near-evenly matched, you may see two “-” signs listed on the odds. When that is the case, the favorite is the larger number after the sign.

Types of bets to place on the NHL

There are many different types of bets to place on the NHL. Here are a few of the most common and popular ones to play.

  • Moneyline and puck line: Moneyline bets are simply decisions over which team will win; it doesn’t matter if the win comes in regulation, overtime, or the shootout. However, puck line bets have an interesting difference-maker. On the puck line (which will be shown as “+/- 1.5 goals”), the favorite must win by at least two goals for the bet to be scored a win; otherwise, the underdog can cover if they only lose by one goal. It’s quite rare to see the puck line move to +/- 2.5 goals, but it has been known to happen later in the year when a Cup-contending team is playing a last-place squad.
  • First period goal in first 5/10 minutes: Hockey coaches always preach the importance of setting the tone early in a hockey game, and there’s no better way to get momentum than an early goal. Sportsbooks will give bettors a choice on lines for a goal in the first five minutes (yes or no) or the first 10 minutes (yes or no) as a line to play in the first period.
  • Prop bets: Prop bets don’t necessarily have a direct impact on the outcome of the game, but they are a fun way to gamble especially if you aren’t as confident in picking an outright winner. Some examples would include who will score the first goal of the game for the Sharks, if the Kings’ top scorer records over or under 4.5 shots on goal, or the save total for the Ducks’ goalie. Props can also be team-focused, such as which team will win the opening faceoff, a team’s exact goal total, or if they will score a shorthanded goal.

Expert tips when betting on the NHL in California

When you’re able to bet on the NHL in California, we hope you’ll keep these expert tips in mind.

  • Understand the fatigue factor: Hockey is an incredibly physically demanding game, and the schedule can often be a factor in that regard. Look for teams who are playing on a back-to-back as a potentially weaker opponent than a team that got the day off before the game, or if there was considerable travel involved. Teams that play their home games in the Eastern time zone will mentally be at midnight or later when playing games against West Coast foes due to not having enough time to adjust their circadian rhythm.
  • Avoid backing heavy favorites: Most of the time, it’s disadvantageous to bet a favorite who has odds of -200 or a higher number (such as -220, -250, etc). This is because you would be risking twice as much money or more than what your profit would be on a winning wager, and it would be a big hit if the favorite you were backing lost. Hockey is a weird game, and so-called “puck luck” can turn the tide in a hurry.
  • Prioritize 5-on-5 stats: Unless the game turns into a real gongshow, the majority of an NHL game will be played at 5-on-5. Sites like NaturalStatTrick.com and Moneypuck.com will allow you to analyze stats at 5-on-5 and in all situations to help get a “truer” picture of how a team is actually performing. If a team is continually posting a high volume of shots on goal but it isn’t translating to wins, the law of averages would tell you a return to normalcy is coming. On the other hand, a team that is scoring well above their expected goal total (both of the above sites will use “xG” when showing expected goals for and “xGA” for expected goals against) is likely due for a negative regression.

NHL live betting

Also called “in-play betting,” live betting is one of the most exciting ways to keep up with the fast-paced action of the NHL. It can also lead to lucrative paydays when done correctly.

Live betting is a term used to describe any wagers made on a game after the game has started. Player props, team props, and game outcomes can all be offered, and the odds will constantly shift based on the events on the ice.

Because of this, understanding game flow is an important skill to master when live-betting. Stats can do a lot to help you, but you should only plan to live-bet a game that you’re actually watching.

The greatest odds movement will come in the third period (or overtime) of a close game. If you can get an offer locked in at a great price, you’ll be able to unlock potentially massive betting value, perhaps even greater than what you would’ve gotten before puck drop.