California Betting Laws

Although nothing is certain as yet, two separate sports betting initiatives have made their way onto California’s ballot for this coming November, giving Californians the chance to decide their state’s gambling future. With both online and retail betting being voted on, the stage could be set for full legalization in 2023.

With a cosmopolitan population of more than 39million (2020 stats), California is the golden goose for sportsbook operators.

The Golden State’ has massive sports betting potential, both in terms of US pro and college sports but also for soccer, thanks to the huge Hispanic population.

It also has a booming tourism industry (at least it did until COVID-19) and a n abundance of major sports franchises. Los Angeles alone has two NFL teams (the Rams and Chargers) and two NBA franchises (the world champion Lakers and the Clippers). Other notable franchises in state are the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and MLB”s Los Angeles Dodgers.

The CA landscape is perfect for a thriving sports betting industry, yet nothing has happened. The situation is messy at best, and downright frustrating at worst, with local tribes and legislators constantly at odds.

Is sports betting legal in California?

Sports betting is not legal in California but might very well be as early as 2023, pending the results of the upcoming election.

The sports betting dream for Cali has been on hold since 2020 when a bill failed to progress due to major opposition from local tribal jurisdictions.

While the bill did advocate legal sports betting at their on-site outlets, the tribes refused to back it due to the language around online betting and cardrooms. For now, however, California residents will need to travel, if they want to bet legally on sports.

Legal sports betting near California

Like we say in all our state guides, it’s not about where you live, it’s about where you are. Most sports betting law in the U.S. is based on location, not residency.

So if you’re a California resident you can still bet legally on sports, but you have to go out of state to do it. States bordering Cali where sports betting is legal are:

  • Nevada: The best and easiest option for California residents. Las Vegas for example is around 275miles from downtown L.A. down I-15, around a four-hour drive. Once you are across the Nevada state line you can bet legally. Either in person or online/mobile. You must be 21 or older.

  • Oregon: Again, once you’re across the state line into Oregon, you can bet legally on sports. However, your options are limited online to the state lottery-run Scoreboard app. There are tribal casinos in-state, which offer in-person betting. Lottery retailers are also potential sites for sports betting kiosks. The legal age to bet on sports is 21.

Are offshore sportsbooks legal in California?

If you live in a place where sports betting is not yet legal, it’s easy to be tempted by the many offshore sportsbooks. Our advice is simple – don’t do it!

These offshore sportsbooks are not legally permitted to offer bets in the state of California, so signing up with them is not a smart move.

Remember, if you do sign up with an offshore sportsbook, you have no protection if things go wrong. For example, if they shut their business and don’t pay you your money, you’re sunk.

Food for thought…