California Online Poker Laws

Online Poker California

California has a long list of laws that pertain to gambling. It might take a genius to decipher all the laws because they are so vague. There are many places that are definitely legal to play poker in California. The state offers dozens of regulated card rooms. Many tribal casinos in California also offer poker games.

Some other legal forms of poker in California include social games (as long as no one is taking a rake from the games), charitable poker games are also considered legal in California.

So, pretty much you can play land based poker almost anywhere in California as long as you are not playing a home game where someone is taking rake. The legality of online poker is still up in the air in California.

Can Players From California Play Poker Online?

Yes! There are still several US poker sites that offer games to players from the United States. California residents can currently play at any US facing online poker site. There are currently no laws that specifically target the legality of playing online poker in California. However, California is expected to legalize online poker in 2014 if the various tribes and state legislation can come together with a bill.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in California?

There are currently no laws in California that specifically address playing poker online. The laws concerning gambling in California often refer to the term percentage game. The laws basically state that the operator of the game can’t take a percentage of the pot. The land based casinos have found a way around this, but as we all know online casinos do take a percentage of the pot in the way of rake. However, the rake is capped in online casino games so there is not an exact percentage being taken from each hand played. This logic kind of goes along with the logic that the land based poker rooms use to take rake in the hands that are dealt in their casinos. So, the legality of playing poker online in California is currently up in the air. [1]

We have some interesting facts about gambling online in California below:

  • California laws do not currently address the legality of online poker.
  • Commercial casinos are authorized by the state of California, and many poker rooms are offered in California.
  • Tribal casinos throughout California have legal poker rooms.
  • California is expected to legalize online poker in 2014.
  • All forms of poker are legal in the state of California except games that take a percentage.
  • Charitable Poker games are legal in California.
  • Online poker has not currently been legalized or criminalized in the state of California.
  • No individual has ever had charges brought against them for playing online poker in California.

California Gambling History

The Gold Rush in California brought people from all over to the state seeking gold. It also brought gambling to the state. It turns out that a lot of the people that did make it to California and find gold liked to gamble. Gambling halls were set up in saloons and other establishments around the state.

This gave California a boost in income since the state and local government charged a fee to gambling establishments. This extra income for the state came to an end in 1850s when the new immigrants to the state disapproved of gambling and wanted it banned. The only form of gambling that survived this ban was poker.

The California constitution considers poker a game of skill instead of gambling. There are more than 100 card rooms in California. Many of these establishments are small, but California is also the home of the Commerce Casino which has over 243 poker tables. This is one of the largest poker rooms in the United States. [2]

The legislation for casinos in California was virtually nonexistent prior to 1998. The Gambling Control Act was enacted in late 1997 and put into place to regulate the gaming industry in California. State governed facilities have very strict rules and only certain games can be offered in these facilities.

Once the Gambling Control Act was put in place state run facilities had very strict rules to follow, but tribal casinos could still do pretty much whatever they wanted to. This all changed in March, 2000. The voters of California passed Proposition 1A. This amendment provided regulation for tribal casinos. The state now works with the Tribe to ensure that the casinos are run fairly without any criminal activity. The Tribes can still offer a variety of games that state run facilities are not allowed to offer, but patrons playing at the Tribal casinos can rest assured that the games are fair. [3]

Legalized Gambling Options in California

California has a plethora of gambling facilities to choose from. Card rooms, tribal casinos, race tracks, and the state lottery are at your disposal in California. California offers more gambling avenues than any other state in the US barring Nevada. [4]

California Poker News

Online Poker Regulation in the US: Q3 2017 Review

As we approach the final quarter of 2017, a fourth consecutive year with no further online poker regulation in the US is looking increasingly likely.

Time Runs Out for Regulated Online Poker in California

With the legislative calendar finished for 2017, time has run out for regulated online poker in California this year, with little hope for future prospects.

Online Poker Regulation in the US: Q2 Review

Although a glimmer of hope remains for at least one state to pass online poker legislation this year, the second quarter of 2017 was particularly gloomy.

Online Poker Regulation in the US: Q1 Review

2017 was supposed to be a breakthrough year for online poker regulation in the US, but to date the signs are it will another year without further progress.

New California Online Poker Bill Fails to Resolve Issues

A new online poker bill in California sidesteps the suitability debate and fails to resolve issues that prevented the progress of regulation last year.

Prospects for US Online Poker Regulation in 2017

With 2016 ending, we look forward and examine the prospects for online poker regulation in the US over the next twelve months.

Will California Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

It is very likely that online poker will be regulated in California in 2014. Many people thought that the legislation would take place in 2013, but the Tribal leaders and the state could not come to an agreement on the matter. They are still hashing out the fine terms, and we expect legislation soon.

It will be interesting to see if the rest of the United States follows suit with California if they do legalize online poker. We are guessing that when California does legalize online poker they will strike deals with the states that are currently offering online poker like Nevada so that the players will be able to compete against each other.


  1. Jump up ^ California Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ The Commerce Casino | FAQ
  3. Jump up ^ California Gambling Regulation
  4. Jump up ^ Gambling in California