There are no forms of online gambling that are legal in California, although daily fantasy sports betting is allowed. California has always had pretty strict laws when it comes to online gambling, and while there have been several attempts to pass legislation in the last few years, nothing has stuck.
Our in-depth review of gambling in California will show you the options for gambling online in the state and how to recognize a site that is safe to play at and 100% legal. Read on to find out about legal gambling and the best online experiences in the Golden State.
Legal Online Gambling Activities in California
Californians can participate in a few forms of legal gambling over the internet, including:
Daily Fantasy Sports
The legal status of DFS has not been defined by California lawmakers, but it is allowed in the state. Operators such as DraftKings, FanDuel, FantasyDraft, and Yahoo Fantasy Sports accept Californians.
Horse and Greyhound Racing
Pari Mutuel horse race wagering is legal in California. It is possible to bet trackside at thoroughbred and quarter horse racing events. The state also allows for advance deposit wagering at off-track betting sites and online.
Legal vs. Illegal Online Gaming in California
Because most forms of online gambling are not legal in California, any sites that claim to accept players from California are illegal. Sports fans, online poker players and online casino enthusiasts within the state may be tempted to turn to the illegal offshore options they see advertised all over the internet, but while such sites may seem legitimate, there is considerable risk wagering at sites that are not regulated by the state.
Why Offshore Betting Sites are Unsafe
Illegal offshore betting sites are unsafe for players across the US, including those in California, for a number of reasons including:
- Your money is at risk — The lack of reliable regulation for offshore online gambling sites means there are no measures in place to protect the players on those sites. Such sites have been known to confiscate players’ balances for unknown or fabricated reasons, invalidate bets with significant returns, and more. They may even delay your payout with the hope that you will lose it all back. Also, your funds could be seized by authorities before the transaction completes.
- Identity Theft — Because there are no government authorities to hold these offshore sites accountable, the personal information you provide could be sold or leaked. The Michigan Gaming Control Board identified Identity Theft related to illegal offshore online gambling sites as one of its top concerns.
- “If you share personal information with an unregulated gambling site, there are no guarantees your information won’t be sold to or used by criminals,” said Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Henry Williams in a December 2021 press release. “Identity theft is the most common complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission. In 2020, 1.3 million identity theft reports were made in the U.S..”
- Dishonest Business Practices — The lack of accountability for these offshore sites often leads them to take unfair advantage of their customers. They commonly trick their patrons with misleading bonuses and promotions.
- No Responsible Gaming Features – Offshore betting sites provide little or no support when it comes to problem gambling or tools to help you control the amount you spend. Additionally, you will find high wagering requirements for their bonuses, making them very challenging to clear. It is another way that they demonstrate their lack of interest in players and their wellbeing, as money comes first.
- No Tax Revenue – Offshore sites do not benefit your community when you play there, as they don’t pay taxes in your jurisdiction and provide no jobs.
How to Know a Site is Legal, Regulated, and Safe
These five signs will help you determine if a site is legal or illegal:
- USGamingReview.com Approval: The quickest and easiest way to see if a site is legitimate is to check our site and read the reviews.
- State Regulator: A legal site will have the seal of the state regulator displayed on its site, usually in the website footer.
- “US Players Welcome”: This phrase can indicate a site that is not legitimate. Legal sites have a specific jurisdiction in a single state and do not accept players from all over the US.
- Cryptocurrency: Gambling sites that accept Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are not legal.
- Domain: You can check the domain to see if a site is legal, “.com” is the standard ending; if you see “.ag, .lv, or .eu,” it is usually illegal.
Why Choose a Legal US Online Sports Betting Site?
Californians will experience several benefits when choosing a legal US betting site, including:
- Fairness – the terms and conditions for betting and bonuses are reasonable and explained clearly before you register for an account.
- Protection – the appropriate encryption measures are used to secure your transactions and personal data.
- Responsible gaming measures – advice on how to spot problem gambling, tools for controlling your time and money, and links to support organizations are provided.
- Accountability – they answer to regulatory bodies, which independently verify the practices and step in to resolve customer disputes.
- Community benefits – As with the California State Lottery, legal online gambling sites will also generate funds for community projects through taxes. Those can go toward:
- Education – such as school funds or state aid grants
- Local jobs – sites create jobs in the state that boost the local economy
- Problem gambling services – such as counseling, helplines, and group sessions
- Seniors and people with disabilities – for example, in New Jersey, support is given to those who might need extra measures to help them in their daily lives.
- Other areas in need — online gaming tax revenue is often utilized by the state to supplement areas of need such as the training of law enforcement.
Responsible Gaming Resources in California
Although online gambling is illegal in CA, you can still find responsible gambling resources. The main options in California include:
- California Gamblers Anonymous: A free 12-step support group with regular meetings that help those with gambling problems. It has branches in Sacramento (1-855-222-5542), Los Angeles (1-855-222-5542), Palm Springs (1-760-325-2808), and San Diego (1- 877-233-8547).
- California Department of Public Health, Office of Problem Gambling: You can find help on the website or use the helpline 1-800-426-2537 to speak to a counselor.
- California Bureau of Gambling Control: This bureau within the state’s Department of Justice runs a self-exclusion program as well as providing information and resources.
- Gam-Anon: This organization provides support for the family and friends of problem gamblers. It can be reached in Northern California on 1-855-222-5542, Los Angeles on 1-818-377-5144, and San Diego on 1- 877-233-8547.
- National Problem Gambling Helpline: You can text or call 800-522-4700 for confidential help 24/7. The 28 call centers provide services to all 50 states.
Gaming Regulator Information
The California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) is the regulatory body for gaming in the Golden State. They are the licensing authority over:
- State gaming operators
- Third-party providers of player services
- Tribal casinos in relevance to CA tribe compacts
Is online gambling legal in California?
No, online gambling is not legal in California right now. At present, politicians, lawmakers, and interested parties cannot reach an agreement that would make it possible for sports betting or other forms of online gambling to be legalized. Daily Fantasy Sports are permitted.
Since online gambling is not legal in California, is choosing an illegal offshore site safe?
No, you are not safe when playing at an offshore site. You might experience unfair terms and practices, risk your money, and find it more difficult to enjoy fun and responsible gambling.
What are the risks of playing at an illegal offshore sports betting site?
There are several risks of playing at an offshore site. They include:
- Account closure, perhaps after one or several big wins
- Slow payouts
- Not support for problem gambling
- Unfair business practices
Can I bet at legal US sportsbook using cryptocurrencies?
No, you cannot use cryptocurrency at a legal US sportsbook. Any sites that accept Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are operating illegally in that jurisdiction.
Where can I get the latest news about online sports betting in California?
Our site keeps you up to date on the latest news and changes to online sports betting in California.