With nearly 39 million people living within its borders, the state of California is the biggest state in the Union by a wide margin. Despite their large population, they have not yet taken advantage of the gambling revenue potential, as they continue to take a conservative approach to legislation on the industry.
While they do have in-person casinos and poker rooms, California online casinos and online poker sites are still not allowed in the state. Though there have been big strides in the online casino industry across the country in recent years, California has continued to remain stagnant.
Thanks to the popularity of in-person real-money poker in recent years, there is certainly an appetite for online poker in California. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect when the industry eventually does launch in the state.
Top California online poker sites
Though there are no legal online poker sites yet available in California, there are currently legal operators who have set up shop in Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Here are the top California online gambling sites expected to offer poker when things go live.
Is online poker in California legal?
No, online poker is not legal in California and is prohibited under Section 330 of the California Penal Code. The law states that any person found guilty of playing is subject to a misdemeanor charge, and a fine of between $100 and $1,000 or imprisonment in county jail not to exceed six months.
While real-money online poker in California is not legal, residents can still play at sweepstakes/social gaming sites, which are not for real money. Additionally, there are many legal poker card rooms throughout the state, with many of the state’s casinos also offering poker rooms.
In fact, the first legal cardroom in California dates back to the 1930s, with now more than 90 legal cardrooms operating in the state (most at casinos). Everything from cash games to professional tournaments on the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour are hosted in the state.
When could California legalize online poker?
Currently, all of the attention from lawmakers when it comes to gambling in California is focused on getting online sports betting launched in the state. Even with that renewed sense of focus, Prop 26 and Prop 27, which would have legalized sports betting in the state, failed to pass in 2022.
While gamblers and legislators alike are hopeful a 2024 vote could go the other way when it comes to sports betting, online casinos and online poker in California remain on the back burner. With 2024 likely again focused on sports betting legislation efforts, 2025 would likely be the earliest we can expect to see California legalize online poker.
How will you be able to sign up at a California online poker site?
Though there are not yet any domestic operators running legal online poker sites in California, many believe the day is just around the corner. Below is a quick peek at what the sign-up process will look like, based on what we see in other states such as Pennsylvania.