California Online Casinos

Emma Trotter

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Emma Trotter

Editor

Lee James Gwilliam

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Lee James Gwilliam

Senior Vice-President

Last Updated on 14th February 2024, 12:03 PM

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Home to more than 39 million people, California is the most populated state in the US. So one can only imagine the potential tax revenues the Golden State can generate from legal gambling. But despite representing the largest potential market in America, online casinos and other forms of online gambling are not legal in California. The state potentially leaves substantial revenue untapped by maintaining a ban on online casinos. However, recent years have seen significant developments, particularly with sports betting. This push to legalize sports betting has sparked hope for faster legalization of online casinos in California.

While the online gambling landscape remains restricted, Golden State residents can still indulge in legal alternatives. Sweepstakes and social casinos provide an avenue for exciting gameplay experiences that comply with existing regulations. Additionally, even though California does not have any commercial or retail casinos, the state is home to a thriving community of tribal land casinos. These establishments offer a wide variety of gambling opportunities for enthusiasts seeking an in-person gaming experience. 

So, join us as we navigate the intricacies of California’s gambling landscape, uncovering the best options and discussing the potential for online casino legalization in the future. 

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California Casino Sites Overview

Is California Online Gambling Legal?

In a nutshell, the answer is no. California currently prohibits online casinos, mirroring the intricate and convoluted gambling landscapes found in states like New York and Florida. Yet, with its massive population of nearly 40 million, legalizing California's online gambling could unlock a wealth of revenue and opportunity. However, there are a lot of conflicting interests within the state that results in gridlock. 

The most recent attempt to legalize gambling in California was Propositions 26 and 27, which, although they would have legalized sports betting, was also expected to pave the way for casino legislation. The Propositions ignited one of the most expensive lobbying wars in history, with more than $400 million being spent by Native American tribes and sports betting operators, and other supporting parties. 

However, Proposition 26 failed on the ballot, and the earliest gambling legislation attempts can be made in 2024. It is most likely that the legalization of commercial gambling will require amendments to California’s constitution. So it’s safe to say that California commercial and online casinos aren’t expected anytime soon. 

It is crucial to exercise caution when exploring online gambling options in California. Many offshore sites may present themselves as legitimate but operate in a legal gray area. It’s also vital to be aware that neighboring states do not offer legal online casinos. Consequently, residents often turn to California social casinos as an appealing alternative, ensuring legal and enjoyable gaming experiences.

As we delve deeper into this subject, we will unravel the complexities of California’s gambling laws, examine the obstacles to legalization, and consider the consequences for online casino enthusiasts in the state. 

California Social Casinos

While online gambling may not be readily available in California, there are still avenues for entertainment and exploration within the legal framework. Yes, we’re talking about the best online social casinos! These platforms provide a legal and enjoyable way to experience casino games within the state.

So, what exactly are social casinos? They are online platforms that offer a wide range of casino games, including slots, blackjack, poker, and more. Players can enjoy these games using virtual currency, often called coins. While the coins themselves hold no real-world value, they allow players to experience the thrill of casino gameplay without the risk of losing actual money.

Sweepstakes casinos, on the other hand, operate using a dual-currency system. They provide both virtual coins and sweeps coins. While coins function similarly to those in social casinos, you can exchange sweeps coins for cash prizes. This innovative approach allows players to potentially win real money while still adhering to California’s gambling regulations.

Several popular social casinos and sweepstakes casinos cater to California residents. Platforms such as Pulsz, WOW Vegas, BetRivers.net, Gambino Social Casino, Winstar, and B Spot Online Casino offer a great range of games and exciting gameplay.

Getting started on these platforms is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is input your basic personal information and age verification to register an account. Then, you can purchase virtual coins using common banking options such as credit or debit cards, e-wallets, or bank transfers. These platforms prioritize user convenience and offer secure and reliable transaction methods.

California Sweepstakes Casinos in California

In states like California, where real money online gambling is not yet permitted, sweepstakes casinos are a great legal alternative for enthusiasts looking to experience the thrill of casino games. But how exactly do they differ from social casinos?

Well, sweepstakes casinos operate under a unique legal framework. They offer a dual-currency system that includes virtual coins and sweeps coins. While virtual coins function similarly to those in social casinos, sweeps coins have the added advantage of being redeemable for real cash prizes.

The key distinction between sweepstakes casinos and social casinos lies in the opportunity to win real money. Free sweeps cash make sweepstakes casinos an attractive option for players seeking the excitement of potentially winning real money within the confines of California’s current gambling laws.

One of the advantages of gambling at sweepstakes casinos in California is that they provide a legal avenue for online gaming. While traditional online casinos are prohibited, sweepstakes casinos operate within the boundaries of sweepstakes laws and regulations. Therefore, players can enjoy their favorite casino games with the added thrill of potential cash prizes.

Additionally, sweepstakes casinos often offer a wide selection of games, including slots, table games, poker, and more. They strive to deliver an authentic casino experience, complete with engaging gameplay, attractive graphics, and immersive sound effects.

High 5 Casino California

High 5 Casino has everything you could want in a social casino, including a huge game library boasting over 600 slots, table games, progressive jackpots and more. Given its intense HD graphics, game library and recognizable slots, it’s extraordinarily close to a real online casino game. The site is also phenomenally organized with subheadings and categories so you can easily find what kind of game you're looking for.

This award-winning social casino frequently has generous welcome bonuses as well as offers for existing players, such as daily log-in bonuses. Players can play with regular Game Coins, which are more for entertainment, or with Sweeps Coins, which can be redeemed for cash prizes.

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WOW Vegas California

WOW Vegas is a flashy sweepstakes casino, which means you can not only play from most US states, but you can earn both WOW Coins (which are the currency for free play) or Sweeps Coins in various ways. Enjoy sign-up bonuses or rack up even more as an active, existing player and redeem winnings for real money.

Since WOW Vegas is somewhat new to the scene, it doesn’t have as high of a game count as some competitors but it has a few features that help make up for that fact. We love the boosted bonuses, first purchase discounts, and contests to earn more Sweeps Coins, plus the Star System loyalty scheme.

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Pulsz Social Casino California

Boasting a hot pink aesthetic, Pulsz Casino is incredibly popular and has one of the most impressive social game selections out there. You'll find top slots such as Megaways, or browse other high RTP slots, virtual table games, and poker. Aside from its crisp user experience and impressive tournament offerings, the sign-up bonus packages are always packed with tons of coins and a high number of included free Sweepstakes Coins – those which you can redeem for real cash, should you win. 

Additionally, there are so many ways to earn even more Gold Coins and Sweepstakes Coins, including tournaments, giveaways and competitions through social media. We also like that Pulsz has a VIP player loyalty club – something not found in many other social casinos.

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BetRivers.net California

If you’ve ever loved visiting a land-based Rivers Casino or played BetRivers Online Casino in a legal state, you will love the company’s social casino version as well. The prestigious BetRivers name means plenty of the games you already know are available in a social casino format – you can play top games without any real money risk. That includes more than 600 slots, live dealer games, multiple blackjack variants and more from top software providers, so it’s like you’re playing the real thing.

Note that BetRivers.net is a true social casino, meaning there are no real money prizes, no sweepstakes, and no coins for redemption. It’s simply fun to play using only virtual credits, so the pressure is off – at least from your bank account.

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Free Casino Games in California

California casino players have a plethora of free social casino games to choose from. While availability may vary by operator, popular examples include:

  • Video Slots: Vibrant and visually captivating games with multiple reels and paylines. Play the best video slots for free to explore different themes and bonus features.
  • Classic Slots: Traditional three-reel slots with timeless symbols. Enjoy the nostalgia and simplicity of classic slots without risking real money.
  • Roulette: Bet on the outcome of a spinning wheel. Try different variants for free at the best Roulette sites to understand the rules and experiment with betting strategies.
  • Blackjack: Aim to get a hand total closer to 21 than the dealer. Practice blackjack skills, learn strategies, and explore different variants without financial risk.
  • Baccarat: Bet on the player’s or banker’s hand in this simple yet elegant card game. Play for free to grasp the rules and develop winning strategies.
  • Poker: Engage in skill-based card games against opponents. Practice poker variations, refine strategies, and improve decision-making abilities without real money wagers at the best online Poker sites.
  • Video Poker: Combine slots and poker for an exciting experience. Play video poker for free to understand game mechanics and develop optimal strategies.

California Casino Apps

While legal California online casinos may still be a distant prospect, there are a few casino apps players can use until their favorite brands like BetMGM come to the state. Players can still spin on the go via branded apps for social and sweepstakes casinos. 

Featuring enhanced connectivity, improved usability and notifications, you can stay in the loop on the hottest new sweepstakes and social casino bonus offers and game releases. These apps also provide an exciting and legal way to enjoy casino games via your smartphone or tablet while we await the potential future legalization of online casinos.

California Casino Promo Codes

The topic of online gambling in California is a complex one, with a history of attempts at legalization. However, the prospects for legal online casinos in the near future remain slim for now. When the time eventually comes for online casino launches in California, the floodgates will open, likely with some of the best promos ever seen. To attract new players, these will be among the top casino bonuses in the USA. Expect renowned operators like FanDuel and Caesars to offer enticing welcome bonuses, including no deposit bonus codes and free spins bonuses, to attract new players. 

In the meantime, residents and visitors can grab attractive bonuses and enjoy the experience of social casinos and sweepstakes casinos, which provide a similar gaming experience to the real thing.

When Will California Online Casinos Be Legal?

The landscape of online casinos in California is marked by a complex history of legislative efforts, tribal compacts, and proposals. While the rush of physical tribal casinos opened years ago, online casinos have remained an afterthought despite traction in the realm of online betting.

In understanding the journey toward potential online casino legalization in California, it is essential to recognize the key players involved in making decisions on gambling-related matters. This includes governing bodies, lawmakers, governors, and political action committees. These stakeholders play a significant role in shaping the future of gambling legislation in the state.

Tribes hold legal compacts that allow them to operate casinos on sovereign land. They have expressed interest in expanding their offerings, such as introducing legal sports betting in-person only at their casinos. Proposition 26, which appeared on the November 2022 ballot, addressed this matter. Proposition 27 also appeared on this ballot, which would have allowed regulated sports betting and had the support of the US top betting operators and supporting tribes. 

Gambling giants, including FanDuel, Bally’s Interactive, Fanatics, BetMGM, DraftKings, Penn National Gaming, and WynnBET, built up a $100 million lobbying fund to back legalization. In addition, two dozen Indian tribes that supported the propositions raised over $108 million.

However, opposition, including some of California's powerful, wealthy tribes, have opposed initiatives. For example, the Band of Mission Indians raised around $91 million to defeat the bill, joined by card clubs that raised over $41 million to block legalization efforts.

While online betting has gained some traction, the tribes have generally hesitated to embrace further expansions that could undermine their casino operations. As a result, the door to online casino legalization in California remains closed for the time being. It is difficult to predict when and if online casinos will become legal in the state. The intricate web of tribal compacts, competing interests, and political dynamics make it a complex and uncertain endeavor.

While online casino enthusiasts in California eagerly await the potential future legalization, they can still enjoy the entertainment and gaming experiences offered by social casinos and sweepstakes casinos.  

Is California Sports Betting Legal?

The topic of legalizing sports betting gained significant momentum in California in 2022. Two different propositions, Prop 26 and Prop 27, made it onto the ballot for voters to decide. These propositions represented opposing sides, with one backed by tribes and the other supported by retail sportsbooks. However, both were ultimately rejected by California voters. Ultimately, this highlights the challenges and complexities involved in legalizing sports betting in the state. 

It is worth noting that many states that have successfully legalized online casinos first focused on legalizing sports betting. But with sports betting not garnering strong support from California voters, the prospects of online casino legalization appear even more uncertain. While the landscape of online casinos in California remains unclear, the rejection of sports betting propositions suggests that the road to legalizing online casinos may face significant obstacles. 

Casinos in California

While online casinos may not be legally accessible in California, residents who prefer a brick-and-mortar gambling experience have a vast selection of land-based tribal casinos to choose from. These casinos come in varying sizes and offer a diverse range of gaming options. Some are situated in sparsely populated areas and focus on a specific game, such as bingo halls, while others provide a comprehensive Vegas-style casino experience.

California is home to more than 58 tribal casinos and 90 cardrooms regulated by the California Gambling Control Commission. Below are some of the most popular ones. 

  • Agua Caliente Casino in Palm Springs
  • Agua Caliente Resort Casino in Rancho Mirage
  • Augustine Casino in Coachella
  • Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside
  • Bear River Casino Hotel in Loleta
  • Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne
  • Blue Lake Casino & Hotel in Blue Lake
  • Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks
  • Cahuilla Casino in Anza
  • Casino Pauma in Pauma Valley
  • Cher-Ae Heights Casino in Trinidad
  • Chicken Ranch Casino in Jamestown
  • Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold
  • Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez
  • Colusa Casino Resort in Colusa
  • Coyote Valley Casino in Redwood Valley
  • Desert Rose Casino in Alturas
  • Diamond Mountain Casino & Hotel in Susanville
  • Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville
  • Elk Valley Casino in Crescent City
  • Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio
  • Feather Falls Casino & Lodge in Oroville
  • Garcia River Casino in Point Arena
  • Gold Country Casino & Hotel in Oroville
  • Golden Acorn Casino in Campo
  • Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain in Wheatland
  • Harrah’s Northern California in Ione
  • Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Funner
  • Havasu Landing Resort & Casino in Lake Havasu
  • Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel in Jackson
  • Jamul Casino in Jamul
  • Konocti Vista Casino in Lakeport
  • Lucky 7 Casino in Smith River
  • Lucky Bear Casino in Hoopa
  • Mono Wind Casino in Auberry
  • Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon
  • Paiute Palace Casino in Bishop
  • Pala Casino Spa Resort in Pala
  • Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula
  • Pit River Casino in Burney
  • Quechan Casino Resort in Winterhaven
  • Rain Rock Casino in Yreka
  • Red Earth Casino in Thermal
  • Red Fox Casino in Laytonville
  • Red Hawk Casino in Placerville
  • Redwood Hotel Casino in Klamath
  • River Rock Casino in Geyserville
  • Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino in Nice
  • Rolling Hills Casino in Corning
  • Running Creek Casino in Upper Lake
  • San Manuel Casino in Highland
  • Sherwood Valley Rancheria Casino in Willits
  • Sho-Ka-Wah Casino in Hopland (closed)
  • Soboba Casino in San Jacinto
  • Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella
  • Sycuan Casino & Resort in El Cajon
  • Table Mountain Casino in Friant
  • Tachi Palace Casino Resort in Lemoore
  • Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln
  • Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms
  • Twin Pine Casino & Hotel in Middletown
  • Valley View Casino & Hotel in Valley Center 
  • Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine
  • Win-River Casino in Redding

Commercial Casinos in California

Although California does not have non-tribal commercial casinos, several tribal casinos in the state have transformed into large-scale resort-casino destinations. These locations are comparable to renowned establishments like Caesars Palace or MGM Grand! Along with expansive gaming floors, they feature entertainment venues hosting shows and concerts, multiple restaurants offering diverse culinary experiences, and luxurious hotel suites. 

Some examples include Pechanga, with its 200,000-square-foot casino floor and over 1,000 rooms. There’s also Harrah’s SoCal and Harrah’s Northern California, co-owned by tribes and Caesars. These commercial-style tribal casinos provide visitors with a comprehensive and memorable resort-casino experience.

The Best Casinos in California

California is home to several renowned and popular casinos that offer exceptional gaming experiences, luxurious accommodations, and a range of amenities. Here is a brief overview of some of the best casinos in the state:

Pechanga Resort & Casino

Pechanga Resort & Casino, located in Temecula, is the largest resort/casino on the West Coast. With a massive 200,000 square feet of gaming space, it offers a vast array of options. The casino floor boasts 4,000 slot machines, 154 table games, a 38-table non-smoking poker room, and a 700-seat bingo area. Additionally, guests can enjoy luxurious accommodations, fine dining options, live entertainment, and a championship golf course.

Viejas Casino Resort

Viejas Casino Resort, situated in Alpine, is a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel and has been honored with the AAA Four Diamond award since 2013. The casino offers a gold-standard Vegas-style gaming experience with numerous slot machines, exciting table games including blackjack and baccarat, a modern bingo room, and an off-track betting facility. Guests can also indulge in upscale accommodations, a rejuvenating spa, multiple dining choices, and vibrant nightlife.

Graton Casino & Resort

Located at the gateway to wine country in Rohnert Park, Graton Casino & Resort provides a perfect getaway from the city. It features over 200 luxury guest rooms and suites, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, and a new non-smoking casino area. The casino offers 3,000 state-of-the-art slots, over 100 table games, a live poker room, and VIP gaming salons. Guests can also enjoy a variety of dining options, live entertainment, and a spa for relaxation.

Thunder Valley Casino Resort

Thunder Valley Casino Resort, situated in Lincoln, is an AAA Four Diamond award-winning destination. The casino occupies 144,500 square feet of gaming excitement and features over 3,000 slot and video machines, 100 table games, and a live poker room. The resort encompasses a 17-story luxury hotel with 300 well-appointed rooms and suites, a full-service spa, a championship golf course, and a selection of dining options.

Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa

Nestled on the Morongo Indian Reservation in the California desert, Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa offers an expansive resort spread across 44 acres. The casino presents 80 gaming tables, 4,000 slot machines, and two VIP rooms. The resort also boasts a water park, a shopping center with over 130 stores, a 24-lane bowling alley, a conference center, and a spa, providing guests with a comprehensive entertainment experience.

Yaamava (Formerly San Manuel)

Yaamava, Southern California’s newest luxury resort, formerly known as San Manuel, features a 17-floor hotel tower with 432 guest rooms and spacious suites. The resort offers an elevated pool deck experience, a lavish full-service spa and salon, and convenient 24-hour in-room dining. Guests can immerse themselves in the gaming excitement of the casino, enjoy multiple dining options, and explore the entertainment offerings.

Is Poker Legal in California?

While the state has strict regulations on most forms of gambling, it does make exceptions for card games like poker. However, it’s important to note that playing poker online is not explicitly legal in California. 

Since poker is not considered a house-banked game, players in California can legally enjoy live poker. Many tribal casinos in the state offer poker games; some even feature dedicated poker rooms that host tournaments. If you’re looking for poker action in California, card rooms like the 500 Club Casino in Clovis, the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, and the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles provide excellent options for players.

California Card Rooms

Card rooms in California are gaming establishments that offer table games such as poker and blackjack, but do not feature slots or video poker. These venues compete fiercely with Native American tribes for customers and have a unique dynamic in the state’s gambling landscape.

Poker rooms, although technically legal in California, operate in a legal gray area. Like tribes, cardroom owners have established themselves as significant gambling entities and have contentious relationships with tribal casinos.

Despite legal challenges, poker rooms have remained in operation by exploiting vague legal terminology. Many card rooms can operate because they are not classified as “percentage games” and utilize other loopholes. Rather than profiting directly from the games, they charge fees to the players. However, this has resulted in opposition from tribal casinos that perceive cardrooms as competition.

Here are some of the most popular card rooms in California:

  • Commerce Casino
  • Hawaiian Gardens Casino
  • The Bicycle Hotel and Casino
  • Hollywood Park Casino
  • Bay 101 Casino

Racinos in California

Racinos are racing tracks that combine casino-style gaming with horse or greyhound races. They feature popular casino games like slots, table games, and pari-mutuel betting, where bets are pooled together. Unfortunately, racinos are not allowed in California, and residents cannot enjoy this combined gambling experience in the state.

Responsible Gambling at California Casinos

Responsible gambling is crucial for players to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. In California, various resources are available for individuals needing assistance controlling their gaming habits. The California Gambling Control Commission and the Bureau of Gambling Control oversee gambling activities in the state and promote responsible gambling programs. Also, the Office of Problem Gambling operates to raise public awareness and support those affected and their families.

The National Problem Gambling Helpline is a vital resource accessible to individuals seeking help with problem gambling. This confidential helpline, reachable at 1-800-522-4700, offers support and information to those affected by gambling issues. The helpline is available 24/7 and provides referrals to local resources through the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network. The network, managed by the National Council on Problem Gambling, includes 28 contact centers offering assistance across all 50 states and US territories. 

Confidential help is also available through text and chat services, and you can find more information at www.ncpgambling.org.

Meet The Author

Emma Trotter
Emma Trotter
Editor Editor

Emma Trotter is a Senior Editor at Casinos.com. Emma has worked as a staff writer and editor for nearly two decades, extensively covering celebrity news and the Las Vegas entertainment, casino and tourism scenes. She spent several years in in-house roles at Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Las Vegas before stepping into iGaming affiliate site content.

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