California is the most populated state in the United States of America with just under 40 million people residing in the state in 2020. With a gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.2 trillion, California’s economy would rank fifth in the world behind only the United States, China, Japan, and Germany if California was a sovereign nation. Needless to say, California betting sites and California online casinos would thrive if they were ever legalized.

Unfortunately, California sports betting still isn’t legal in 2020. The residents of California want it and its legalization would only make the state’s economy grow even larger, but too many parties with conflicting goals keep fighting over legalizing betting in California.

The COVID-19 pandemic has offered some new hope that perhaps 2022 will be the year that California finally sees a breakthrough in legalizing sports betting. Statewide lock downs and high unemployment rates have had a major negative impact on the state’s economy, and will potentially drive California legislators to start looking for new ways to boost the economy. Making sports betting legal in California would do just that.

In this CA sports betting primer, we’ll cover everything you need to know about betting on sports in California from the Californian state betting laws to potential California online sportsbooks that could make their way into the state if new legislation eventually paves the way.

The Legal Status of Sports Betting in California

Here we will break down the laws governing sports betting, or the lack of it, in California.

PASPA makes sports betting in California illegal

Sports betting was made illegal in all but four states in the United States of America back in 1992. After holding public hearings on sports gambling in June of 1991, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks determined that sports betting was a national problem. Congress enacted Senate Bill 474 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) the following year, making it illegal to place sports bets anywhere in the United States.

There were four exceptions made in PASPA’s reach for states that had already legalized sports gambling before the bill was passed. Delaware, Montana, and Oregon had legalized pick pools and sports lotteries and were allowed to continue running those. Only Nevada had legalized sports betting as we know it today with betting options like moneylines, spreads, totals, parlays, futures, and prop bets. Nevada was the only state grandfathered in that would not have to adhere to PASPA’s new rules.

PASPA is repealed in 2018

New Jersey first began its fight against PASPA in 2009 when state senator Raymond Lesniak filed a lawsuit claiming that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional because it discriminated against the 46 states that were not allowed to offer sports betting while four states still were allowed to. Then-governor Chris Christie dismissed the case as he felt that challenging the long-standing law would be a hopeless effort.

But in 2010, New Jersey added a referendum to legalize sports to its ballot and the referendum passed by an extremely wide margin. Backed by the votes of the residents of New Jersey, Chris Christie passed a law to legalize sports gambling at licensed locations in New Jersey in 2012. This would set the stage for a legal battle that would change the potential for sports betting in the United States forever.

The NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, and NHL all sued the state of New Jersey for violating the PASPA agreement. The District Court ruled in favor of the leagues, but New Jersey appealed the ruling and asked that the Supreme Court review the case as PASPA was in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

The Supreme Court heard the case in May of 2018 and sided with New Jersey, agreeing that PASPA was unconstitutional in taking the power away from states to choose for themselves whether or not to legalize sports betting. New Jersey was able to move forward with legalized sports betting at both physical and online locations, and the rest of the country could now decide to legalize sports betting on a state-by-state basis.

With PASPA repealed, the door is wide open for California online betting to be legalized and for California online sportsbooks to be fully regulated and taxed by the state’s government. But while many other states around the nation quickly followed in New Jersey’s footsteps to legalize sports betting and other forms of gambling, California still hasn’t put together any legislation to pass sports betting into law.

Native American Casinos and California Cardrooms Have Halted Progress

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of legalizing California online gambling are the leaders of California’s Native American tribes. In 1998, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed to allow legal gambling on Indian Lands. No state has a more powerful presence of tribal casinos than California does. Over 60 Native American tribes own casinos in California and the gaming revenue that they bring in is higher than any other state in the nation.

Long before Native Americans were allowed to own and operate Las Vegas-style casinos on their land, California had a booming card room scene throughout the state. The first California card room popped up in 1854, offering a poker game to residents and visitors that came through on the Pony Express in Pacheco, California. Card rooms have evolved a lot since those days; over 70 are in operation statewide and they spread more than just poker with other card games including blackjack, three-card poker, and Pai-Gow poker.

For the last 20 years, California card rooms and California Indian casinos have been in constant competition. The Native American casinos don’t like losing business to California card rooms or race tracks and would prefer to be the only party in the state to provide residents with gaming. The card rooms on the other hand are upset that the tribal casinos get to play by their own rules and would prefer to have the scope of their own games widened by law.

Card Roomd

This power struggle for the betting public’s gaming budget is what stands in the way of legislation making headway. Both groups have powerful lobbyists and both would prefer to have the whole sports betting pie to themselves. Neither side wants to compromise and both are willing to fight any legislation that doesn’t favor its own interests.

Things get even more complicated when the potential of California online casinos and mobile betting comes into play. Most states outsource their online sports betting options to online sportsbooks willing to pay a licensing fee to operate in the state. Big players like MGM Grand, FanDuel, and DraftKings now offer legal sports betting in multiple states that they have been approved to operate in.

Both the Native American casinos and the California card rooms don’t want to lose betting revenue to California online sports betting. Once again, this is likely to throw a wrench into passing legislation as both of these groups will fight to have California sports betting sites that are only owned and operated by local parties instead of national ones. Worse yet, legislation might not even include California online sportsbooks and instead be limited to just brick-and-mortar locations.

As of 2020, all of this is still speculation. Logic would dictate that all parties involved could come to some kind of an agreement to enter this extremely lucrative sports betting industry. But logic has not prevailed in recent years and some wonder if it ever will.

Where To Bet On Sports In California

If California does ever legalize sports betting, there will be plenty of great locations for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks already in place. Most tribal casinos and California card rooms already offer off-track betting for horse racing, and these racebooks could easily be converted into sportsbooks in the short term before these sites invested in newer infrastructure. Here’s a list of some of the top betting locations in California:

California Native American Casinos

  • Barona Resort & Casino
  • Cache Creek Casino Resort
  • Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
  • Chumash Casino Resort
  • Eagle Mountain Casino
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento
  • Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel
  • Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
  • Pala Casino Resort & Spa
  • Pechanga Resort & Casino
  • Red Hawk Casino
  • River Rock Casino
  • San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino
  • Soboba Casino
  • Spotlight 29 Casino
  • Sycuan Casino & Resort
  • Table Mountain Casino
  • Tachi Palace Casino Resort
  • Thunder Valley Casino
  • Viejas Casino & Turf Club

California Card Rooms

  • Bay 101
  • Bicycle Casino
  • California Grand Casino
  • Capitol Casino
  • Commerce Casino
  • Hawaiian Gardens Casino
  • Hollywood Park Casino
  • Hustler Casino
  • Lucky Lady Card Room
  • Ocean’s Eleven Casino

California Horse Racing Tracks

  • Del Mar Racetrack
  • Golden Gate Fields
  • Los Alamitos
  • Santa Anita Park

Legal Online Sports Betting in California

As of 2020, there are currently no legal CA online sports betting sites. With no legislation currently in place, it is impossible to know for sure what online betting in California will look like should it be legalized in 2022. Cali betting sites may be owned and operated by in-state tribal casinos or California card rooms, who will be hesitant to agree to legislation that allows legal CA betting sites to operate from outside of the state.

Ideally, California will allow the nation’s top sportsbooks to offer online gambling and mobile gambling options to California residents like they do in other states that have legalized sports betting since PASPA was repealed. These sportsbooks include:



The MGM Grand is a recognizable brand to anyone who has ever visited Las Vegas. The company owns some of the most popular hotel casinos on the Las Vegas Strip including the MGM Grand and the Bellagio. BetMGM was a natural fit in New Jersey as it already owned and operated the popular Borgata Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, giving bettors in New Jersey the chance to bet on games at the physical location of the casino or using the online sportsbook or mobile app. BetMGM has since branched into other states and would almost certainly apply for a license in California if given the chance.



DraftKings was founded in 2012 and quickly rose to national fame as a daily fantasy sports provider. The company enjoyed massive success in the DFS industry and has invested lots of money and time into optimizing the user experience on both web and mobile. DraftKings was well-prepared to expand into the sports betting realm in 2018 and now offers both daily fantasy sports and sports betting in all states it is legally able to do so.



Shortly after a failed merger attempt with DraftKings, the second-largest daily fantasy sports provider sold a majority share of its company to Paddy Power Betfair, a European sportsbook powerhouse. While FanDuel continues to operate under its well-recognized name brand in the United States, it does so with the backing of all of the sportsbook technology that Paddy Power Betfair (now called Flutter Entertainment) had mastered in the European sports betting market.



Just founded in 2017, PointsBet hit the ground running in Australia and has been steadily expanding into multiple states in the United States. The young company offers a fresh new wager type called points betting that allows bettors to win or lose more money based on the margin of victory or defeat. For example, a 10-point favorite that wins by 30 points would pay $200 on a $10 points bet (covering the spread by 20 points x $10 per point = $200). Action seekers in California would certainly enjoy the opportunity to place California sports bets like this.

College and Professional Sports Teams to Bet on in California

California residents would love to have a legal betting option to use to bet on their favorite teams. The nation’s most populous state is rich with sports history at both the professional and collegiate levels. Here’s a look at the local teams that would be sure to draw plenty of CA sports bets if sports betting is ever legalized:

NFL Teams in California

Los Angeles lost both of its NFL teams in 1995 when the Los Angeles Raiders moved to Oakland and the Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis. After over 20 years without a local team to root for, Los Angeles locals now have two teams to choose from as the Rams returned to LA in 2016 and the San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles in 2017. Up in the bay area, the San Francisco 49ers will no longer have the Oakland Raiders as rivals after the Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020.

  • LA Chargers

    Los Angeles Chargers

    • Relocated from San Diego in 2017
    • Home Stadium: SoFi Stadium
    • Super Bowls: None
  • LA Rams

    Los Angeles Rams

    • Relocated from St. Louis in 2016
    • Home Stadium: SoFi Stadium
    • Super Bowls: None
  • San Francisco 49ers

    San Francisco 49ers

    • Joined NFL in 1950
    • Home Stadium: Levi’s Stadium
    • Super Bowls: 5 (1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994)

NBA Teams in California

The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied teams in NBA history. After missing the playoffs six times from 2013-14 through 2018-19, the Lakers are back in the championship picture with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way. But they aren’t alone in the championship picture in Los Angeles as the Clippers made a huge splash ahead of the 2019-20 season to acquire Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Up north, the Golden State Warriors have been a popular CA sports bet in recent years with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson leading the team to three championships in four years; alongside Kevin Durant for two of those wins. The Warriors had a down year due to the injury bug in 2019-20, but the next few years could see three championship contenders all residing in California.

  • LA Lakers

    Los Angeles Lakers

    • Relocated from Minnesota in 1960
    • Home Arena: Staples Center
    • NBA Championships: 11 (1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010
  • LA Clippers

    Los Angeles Clippers

    • Relocated from San Diego in 1984
    • Home Arena: Staples Center
    • NBA Championships: None
  • Golden State Warriors

    Golden State Warriors

    • Relocated from Philadelphia in 1962
    • Home Arena: Chase Center
    • NBA Championships: 4 (1975, 2015, 2017, 2018)
  • Sacramento Kings

    Sacramento Kings

    • Relocated from Kansas City in 1985
    • Home Arena: Golden 1 Center
    • World Championships: None

MLB Teams in California

The Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most popular teams in California and across the entire country. Dodgers bettors have been rewarded with plenty of wins and seven straight National League West division titles from 2013 through 2019, but a World Series victory has evaded the boys in blue. The addition of Mookie Betts ahead of the 2020 season ensures that the Dodgers’ championship window shouldn’t be closing any time soon.

  • LA Angels

    Los Angeles Angels

    • Expansion team in 1961
    • Home Stadium: Angel Stadium of Anaheim
    • World Series Championships: 1 (2002)
  • LA Dodgers

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    • Relocated from Brooklyn in 1958
    • Home Stadium: Dodger Stadiuum
    • World Series Championships: 5 (1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988)
  • Oakland Athletics

    Oakland Athletics

    • Relocated from Kansas City in 1968
    • Home Stadium: Oakland Coliseum
    • World Series Championships: 4 (1972, 1973, 1974, 1989)
  • San Diego Padres

    San Diego Padres

    • Expansion team in 1969
    • Home Stadium: Petco Park
    • World Series Championships: None
  • San Francisco Giants

    San Francisco Giants

    • Relocated from New York City in 1958
    • Home Stadium: Oracle Park
    • World Championships: 3 (2010, 2012, 2014)

NHL Teams in California

The Los Angeles Kings put hockey in California on the map when they acquired Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers before the start of the 1988-89 season. Gretzky’s popularity made the Kings a must-see attraction and played a role in California receiving two expansion teams in the early 1990’s when the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks entered the league.

  • Anaheim Ducks

    Anaheim Ducks

    • Expansion team in 1993
    • Home Stadium: Honda Center
    • Stanley Cup Championships: 1 (2007)
  • Los Angeles Kings

    Los Angeles Kings

    • Expansion team in 1967
    • Home Stadium: Staples Center
    • Stanley Cup Championships: (2012, 2014)
  • San Jose Sharks

    San Jose Sharks

    • Expansion team in 1991
    • Home Stadium: SAP Center at San Jose
    • Stanley Cup Championships: None

NCAA Division I FBS Teams in California

The Pac-12 is home to two of California’s greatest rivalries in the Cal Golden Bears vs. Stanford Cardinal and the USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins. USC has enjoyed a good amount of success at the national championship level in football while UCLA once strung together nine straight NCAA Tournament wins in basketball under the legendary Head Coach John Wooden.

  • California Golden Bears

    California Golden Bears

    • Football Home Stadium: California Memorial Stadium
    • Basketball Home Arena: Haas Pavilion
    • Football National Championships: 5 (1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1937)
    • Basketball National Championships: 1 (1959)
  • Fresno State Bulldogs

    Fresno State Bulldogs

    • Football Home Stadium:  Jim Sweeney Field
    • Basketball Home Arena: Save Mart Center
    • Football National Championships: None
    • Basketball National Championships: None
  • San Diego State Aztecs

    San Diego State Aztecs

    • Football Home Stadium: SDCCU Stadium
    • Home Arena: Viejas Arena
    • Football National Championships: None
    • Basketball National Championships: None
  • San Jose State Spartans

    San Jose State Spartans

    • Football Home Stadium: CEFCU Stadium
    • Basketball Home Arena: Provident Credit Union Event Center
    • Football National Championships: None
    • Basketball National Championships: None
  • Stanford Cardinal

    Stanford Cardinal

    • Football Home Stadium: Stanford Stadium
    • Basketball Home Arena: Maples Pavilion
    • Football National Championships: 2 (1926, 1940)
    • Basketball National Championships: 1 (1942)
  • UCLA Bruins

    UCLA Bruins

    • Football Home Stadium: Rose Bowl
    • Basketball Home Arena: Pauley Pavilion
    • Football National Championships: 1 (1954)
    • Basketball National Championships: 11 (1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1995)
  • USC Trojans

    USC Trojans

    • Football Home Stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
    • Basketball Home Arena: Galen Center
    • Football National Championships: 11 (1928, 1931, 1932, 1939, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, 2003, 2004)
    • Basketball National Championships: None

California Sports Betting: Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is sports betting legal in California?
    As of 2020, sports betting is currently not legalized in California. Legislation will not be ready in time for the 2020 election, meaning that the soonest we may be able to see sports betting legalized in California could be 2022.
  • How old do you have to be to place sports bets in California?
    The legal gambling age in California is 18 years old. Most casinos across the state do require bettors to be 21 years old to place wagers, however. It is currently unknown whether the legal age to bet on sports both in physical locations and CA online sportsbooks will be 18 years old or 21 years old.
  • What types of sports bets are available in California?Currently, there are no legal options for betting on sports in California. Using other states that have legalized sports betting as a guideline however, there is a high probability that each of the following bet types will eventually be legalized in California when legislation is passed to allow sports betting:
    • Moneyline:
      A wager on what team or player will win a game. Moneylines vary from event to event based on the perceived likelihood that one side will win.
    • Point Spreads:
      In sports like football and basketball, the gap between two teams is can be closed by a point handicap instead of different prices on the moneyline. An against-the-spread play is a bet on the favorite to win by a certain number of points or on the underdog to win or to lose by less than the listed spread.
    • Totals:
      Totals, also known as Over/Under wagers, are bets on whether the total number of points in a game will go OVER or UNDER a posted total.
    • Prop Bets:
      Proposition bets are wagers on events that take place during a game that don’t necessarily directly affect the outcome of the game. These include team and player props like what team will score first or whether a specific player will score a touchdown.
    • Futures:
      Future bets take place on events that are set to happen beyond the immediate future. These include wagers like what team will win the championship.
    • Parlays:
      Bettors can combine multiple wagers into one ticket using a parlay. The risk is higher as a single loss on the ticket results in the entire parlay being graded a loss, but the reward is also higher as parlays offer much better payouts than single-game wagers.
    • Live Betting:
      Live or in-game betting can take place on your website or mobile device as the game is taking place. Live lines are constantly being adjusted based on the action that is taking place within the game.
    • Do I need to be physically located in California to place bets on California-based sportsbooks?
      While there aren’t currently any online sportsbooks operating in California, it is a safe bet to assume that this will be the case when sports betting is eventually legalized in California. Most states use geo-tracking on your computer or mobile device to confirm that you are located in the state before accepting any wagers.