HomeCalifornia Online gambling

California online gambling

California online gambling is still extremely restricted. Sports betting and online casino play are still fully prohibited statewide, and even though California has a state lottery, you can only get your tickets in person. With horse race betting as the only online option, legislators and gambling enthusiasts alike have been pushing to change state laws and expand options.

Fact checked by: Gary Garry
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In this guide to online gambling in California, we’ll walk you through the path to legalization, list what operators could arrive in CA for the betting launch, and provide some helpful tips to start your gambling journey.

Best California gambling sites

As the most populous U.S. state (and by extension, the state with the biggest betting handle potential), California is bound to attract many of the top betting operators once the state approves new betting laws.

Here are some of the best California gambling sites that could launch in the near future.

🏈 DraftKings California ⭐ Best for daily fantasy sports
🏈 FanDuel California ⭐ Generous bonuses
🏈 Caesars California ⭐ Best for horse race betting
🏈 Fanatics California ⭐ Great odds & fast withdrawals
🏈 ESPN Bet California ⭐ Best for sports gambling
🏈 BetMGM California ⭐ Best loyalty program

DraftKings California

DraftKings California

DraftKings rose to prominence as a daily fantasy sports (DFS) operator, and Californians can already enter DFS contests on the DraftKings site.

However, other services like DK Horse, as well as the casino and sportsbook platforms, are still off-limits. Once online gambling is permitted, DraftKings should remain competitive with FanDuel for the top spot in the market.

FanDuel California

FanDuel California

Like with DraftKings, FanDuel DFS is permitted, but all of FanDuel’s other gambling sites are still prohibited.

When sports betting is fully legalized, FanDuel is a virtual lock to become one of California’s top betting operators due to its generous bonuses, easy-to-use software interfaces, and abundant same game parlay (SGP) offerings.

Caesars California

Caesars California

Caesars operates in both the sportsbook and casino spaces, but unlike FanDuel and DraftKings, Caesars’ presence in California is based on its horse racing operations as opposed to DFS. The company launched its pari-mutuel racing app in CA in June 2023, just ahead of the Belmont Stakes.

Fanatics California

Fanatics California

Sports merchandise giant Fanatics is thus far limited to operating in a sportsbook-only capacity after purchasing all of PointsBet’s U.S. operations.

It began rolling out in August 2023 and plans to complete the PointsBet conversions by May 2024. It will likely pursue expansion into new states after finishing the transition, and there’s a chance Fanatics could look into other types of online gaming.

ESPN Bet California

ESPN Bet California

While ESPN Bet is the newest brand on this list, parent company PENN Entertainment holds a much deeper gambling background. ESPN Bet has replaced Barstool Sportsbook after the latter’s controversial antics created turbulence in the regulatory sphere.

In August 2023, PENN announced a 10-year, $2B partnership with ESPN to act as the face of the sports betting platform and to create unique betting content for the site. Integration with ESPN’s existing channels will be a key part of success for all parties involved.

BetMGM California

BetMGM California

California bettors will particularly enjoy using BetMGM’s platforms once all forms of online gambling are legalized in California.

This is because BetMGM boasts one of the premier loyalty programs in the industry, allowing bettors to earn points toward rewards ranging from bonus bets and free spins to hotel stays, casino perks, and entertainment travel with every wager placed.

If you exclude DFS, the only type of online gambling that is legal in California is horse race betting. The earliest wagers in the state were accepted in 1933, with off-track betting first allowed in 1985. Advance deposit wagering became legal in 2002 and has remained legal since then.

As of writing, horse race bettors in California can use TwinSpires, Caesars, TVG California, NYRA Bets, WatchAndWager.com, Xpressbet, and OffTrackBetting.com to place their wagers.

How will I sign up for online gambling websites in California?

Signing up for online gambling websites in California won’t take very long once the practice is legalized. Here are the five simple steps to complete the process.

  1. Find a bonus code, if available: Some gambling websites will utilize promo codes as a means of attracting new users to the site through a lucrative welcome bonus (we’ll go into more details on bonuses below). Once online gambling is legal, we’ll list all available bonuses for California betting sites on our pages, along with any necessary bonus codes.
  2. Access the registration page: As was the case with the bonus codes, we will have a direct link to the online registration page for all legal, licensed California gambling operators listed on our pages. If you do not see a gambling site listed here, do not trust it!
  3. Enter your account creation details: Once you’ve opened the form, you’ll prompted to create a username, enter your email address, craft a password, and enter your phone number to enable two-factor authentication when logging in. You may also get to check a box to opt-in to receive promotional emails or text messages.
  4. Type in your identifying info: After that, you’ll need to enter some details about yourself, including but not limited to your legal first and last name, your birthday, your street address, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. This information will be securely transmitted and safely stored at all times, as legal operators must comply with strict cybersecurity standards to maintain their licensure.
  5. Agree to the terms and place your first deposit: Finally, check a box agreeing to the terms and conditions of use, click “complete registration,” and make a real-money deposit into your online gambling account. Make sure any deposit you make allows you to maximize your welcome bonus, if applicable.

Who will regulate online gambling in CA?

Currently, the California Horse Racing Board oversees horse race betting in CA. However, as other forms of online gambling are legalized, the state may look to create other oversight committees to cover casino gaming and sports betting. This could also default to the California Lottery Commission, which oversees lottery play in the state but has not yet dealt with any forms of online gambling.

There are three main types of online gambling which could become legal in CA. However, after California voters shot down Propositions 26 and 27 on the 2022 ballot, all of these options will face an uphill battle should any of them make it to a 2024 vote.

  • Sports betting: Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe California’s abundance of professional sports teams should make legal sports betting in CA a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the sports betting amendment as written saw roughly 80% voter opposition in 2022. However, this could be due to the narrow scope of the legislative language, which critics said would have created a monopoly in the market for just a few California sportsbooks.
  • Online casinos: With games like blackjack, roulette, craps, video poker, slots, and more, online casinos in California would be massively popular out of the gates. However, the state’s Native American casinos have opposed legalization by claiming that allowing online play would cause massive cuts to the profits at their brick-and-mortar locations.
  • Lottery: The California Lottery has operated since 1985 as a way to provide additional funding for public education, with a multitude of games available for players. However, the state has thus far been slow to adopt online ticket sales. Of these three options, the lottery is best positioned to be the first to allow for online play.

Helpful advice when playing on gambling sites in CA

There are several key pieces of helpful advice when playing on gambling sites in CA. Responsible betting practices should be followed at all times, and these tips will contribute to a more positive betting experience.

  • Set budgets: The obvious detail here is to properly allocate your bankroll and only bet what you can afford to lose. However, budgeting your time in addition to your money is a crucial skill. It can be easy to lose track of time at the blackjack table or while trying to find the sportsbook line you want to play. Limiting the time and money you spend on gambling sites will keep you from making impulsive wagers.
  • Bet with your head, not your heart: It’s perfectly natural to have favorite games, sports, leagues, teams, and players at online gambling sites, and betting on them all isn’t inherently a bad thing. However, throwing money on your favorite team for every game is more often than not a losing strategy, and acting on your emotions more than your research and logic can lead to poor decisions.
  • Shop around: There won’t be rules limiting you to one online casino, sportsbook, or lottery game once such gambling types are legalized. Try out as many as you are comfortable with, take advantage of their welcome offers, and find out what features, bonuses, and games are most important to you. For sports betting in particular, odds shopping is a great way to find betting value for bets you were already going to make, with greater payouts for winning wagers due to the more favorable odds.
  • Know when to walk away: Many online betting sites will allow you to set up a “cooldown period” at which point you won’t be able to make any deposits or place any bets. This can be particularly helpful if you end up on a losing streak to avoid chasing losses and betting beyond your means. However, this can also tie back in with our first point of setting budgets on your time; get up, walk around, stretch, and give your eyes a break, as too much time in front of a screen can be problematic in other ways.

Bonus types that will be offered on websites for gambling in California

California websites for gambling will make their bonus offerings frequent and generous to encourage new betting signups and to entice returning players to come back to the platforms. Here are some of the most common California betting bonus types that will be available after the launch of online gambling in the state.

  • Bonus bets/spins/plays: Bonus bets, spins, and plays are all variations of bet credit, allowing users to make a wager without having to tap into their bankroll. At sportsbooks, bonus bets can be played as their own stakes or in conjunction with a real-money wager, while bonus spins and free plays are their own stake at online casinos.
  • Deposit matches: When loading funds into your account, gambling websites may offer to match your deposit in bonus bets or other bet credits in equal amounts to your deposit. This is often done at a 100% match up to a set cap but matches at a rate higher than 100% aren’t unheard of.
  • Second chance bets: These bonus types are most commonly part of a sportsbook welcome offer, but they can pop up for returning players from time to time. A second chance bet gives an equal-value bet credit following a qualifying wager that settles as a loss.
  • Reward multipliers: Particularly common for online slots, reward multipliers are a common way for online casinos to promote new games. Usually, this results in a 2X or 3X payout, but depending on the game and operator, this could result in up to a 100X bonus on a win.

How you will be able to pay at gambling operators in California

Gambling operators in California will all have similar lists of ways you will be able to pay and access your winnings, though some banking methods aren’t as universal. Here are some of the top options for each type of transaction.

Deposit

  • Play+ card: A Play+ card works very similarly to a gift card and an ATM card. Players load funds from their bank account to their Play+ card, then choose from a list of approved sites where they can make a deposit. Similarly, winnings on the card can be offloaded at an ATM.
  • Credit/debit cards: This is likely the most commonly used method for online gambling sites because credit and debit cards are ubiquitous and convenient. In some cases, you may also be able to withdraw your winnings to a debit card, especially if you are using a Visa or Mastercard. American Express and Discover are hit-or-miss.
  • PayPal: If credit and debit cards are the #1 deposit method, PayPal is likely #2. The online payment processor has a long history of e-banking, giving it a highly credible reputation in the gambling industry.

Withdrawal

  • Online banking: Linking your bank account to your online gambling account is safe, secure, and one of the fastest ways to collect your winnings. Most major banks will have your payout in your account the same day you submit a withdrawal request, and there won’t be fees associated with the transaction in most cases.
  • E-wallets: Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Venmo are up-and-coming competitors with PayPal, though they aren’t as widely accepted at betting sites so far. Their function is very similar to PayPal, holding your winnings until you move them into a linked bank account.
  • Wire transfer: Wire transfers are another extremely secure way to access your winnings, though because gambling operators tend to have higher minimums to utilize this method, it can often take longer to process the request. In most cases, you’re looking at a $1,000 minimum withdrawal for a wire transfer, while other methods here can have minimums as low as $10.

How we will evaluate internet gambling operators in CA

Once more forms of betting are legalized in California, we will have thorough, detailed reviews of all legit bookmakers and casinos, complete with scores to assess their performance. We plan to use the following criteria to evaluate internet gambling operators in CA.

  • Welcome bonus: When assessing the value of the welcome bonus, we’ll account for both the maximum overall amount attainable with the offer as well as the upfront costs and requirements to obtain the offer.
  • Payment options: Having more payment options available for players is generally a sign that a gambling operator will make playing easy and convenient. It also means they are likely to handle withdrawal requests quickly and effectively.
  • Gambling app: Next, we’ll review the gambling app, including taking a look at the app’s performance, ease of use, aesthetics, and reviews from app stores.
  • Variety and features: Like with payment options, more is better. The selection of available games, bet types, bonuses (both for frequency and promos offered), and other unique traits will all play into the score for this section.
  • Customer service: Finally, we will evaluate the customer service for channels offered, FAQ information available, and the timeliness and professionalism of support representatives.

Upsides and downsides of online gambling in CA vs. in-person gambling

Once both types of betting are fully legalized in the state, there will be advantages and disadvantages to both in-person and online play. Here are some of the key upsides and downsides of online gambling vs. in-person gambling.

Upsides

  • Online wagering is more convenient: As long as you’re physically located within California’s state borders, you’ll be able to place a wager or play a game at an online casino. This can also save you money and time by not having to commute to a casino or retail betting location to place your bets and collect your winnings.
  • Online gambling has a greater selection: Because online gambling sites don’t have the same space limitations as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, they are often able to offer many more games, especially casino classics like slots, video poker, and table games.
  • Online sites can offer bonuses: Not only are bonuses far more prevalent with online gambling sites, but they also tend to be more varied and generous.

Downsides

  • Online gambling can run into geolocation issues: There’s no doubt you’re ready to play when you’re standing at a casino table or in line at a retail counter to place a sports bet. However, when playing online, if your mobile device and the gambling site/app can’t pinpoint your location to verify you’re within state borders, you won’t be able to play.
  • Online betting can take longer to collect your winnings: Once you’re done playing at a casino or waiting out a game at a sportsbook, you can walk to the window and collect your winnings in cash. However, when playing online, you’ll need to wait until your withdrawal request is approved and payment is disbursed.
  • Online play can be distracting: Because you can place online bets from anywhere, you open the door to distractions, like notifications to your phone or mobile device.

FAQ

When will California gambling sites go live?

California gambling sites will go live after the state legalizes online betting, which won’t happen until 2024 at the earliest. Sportsbooks and online casinos are prohibited in CA, and lottery games must be played in person. Horse race betting is the only legal online option in California.

Which gambling operators will come to CA?

Once the state legalizes more forms of betting, many of the top gambling operators, such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, and ESPN Bet should all flock to CA to launch their platforms.

Are gambling websites in California safe to play on?

Yes, once the state legalizes online wagering, gambling websites in California will be safe to play on. However, until such legislation passes, betting sites will remain illegal and unsafe for use.

Will gambling sites in CA offer bonuses?

Yes, gambling sites in CA will offer bonuses. CASportsBettingSites.com will list all available legal online betting operators and their bonus offerings once more forms of gambling are legalized.

Can you play online slots in CA?

Yes, you can play online slots in CA. However, you will only be able to play in social casinos, as online gambling is prohibited in California. Real-money online slots are still illegal.

Fact checked by: Gary Garry