California Online Poker Laws

Online Poker California

California has a long list of laws that relate to gambling, but none specifically mention online gambling. Certainly there are many places where it is definitely legal to play live games of poker in California. The state regulates dozens of card rooms, and many tribal casinos in California also host live 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), and 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 in which someone is taking rake. However, what about online poker in California?

Can Players From California Play Poker Online?

Yes! There are several US poker sites that offer games to players from the United States and no restrictions exist to prevent Californian residents playing at any US facing online poker site. Indeed, Californians have enjoyed considerable success in recent years at the online poker tables – most notably Taylor “FortheNguyen” Black taking down the first ever Million Dollar Sunday for $200,000.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in California?

It is neither legal nor illegal to play online poker in California. The fact that the state has not yet regulated online poker does not make it illegal to play. The only differences between a regulated online poker site and an unregulated (or “offshore”) poker site is that – as a player – you do not get the same level of consumer protection at an unregulated poker site, but you benefit from lower rake and higher rewards.

Technically speaking, 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. 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. [1]

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

  • Californian laws do not currently address the legality of online poker.
  • Commercial casinos are authorized by the state of California.
  • Tribal casinos throughout California have legal poker rooms.
  • All forms of poker are legal except games that take a percentage.
  • Charitable poker games are legal in California.
  • Online poker has not yet been regulated 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.

California Poker News

Efforts to Expand Gambling in California Already Look Doomed

A proposal to amend California’s constitution in order to allow regulated sports betting has met with opposition from the state’s tribal gaming interests.

Opening Salvos Fired in Battle for CA Sports Betting Market

With potential stakeholders in California´s regulated sports betting market the battle for regultaion is likely to be much bloodier than before.

IiPay Nation´s Online Gamble May Not Have Bitten the Dust Yet

A court case, concerning a tribal nation´s right to host online gambling on its own lands, came to a close following a Court of Appeals verdict

Online Poker Regulation in the US: Q1 2018 Review

The first three months of 2018 have thrown up few surprises with regard to online poker regulation in the US. However, looking forward, there could be some significant changes on the landscape – particularly if the Supreme Court makes a positive ruling in the PASPA sports betting case.

2018 Bill to Regulate Online Poker in California Unlikely

With there being little chance a bill to regulate online poker in California would be successful this year, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer has said he will not be re-introducing his Internet Poker Consumer Protection Bill in 2018. But, will any other legislator be willing to take on the challenge?

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.

Precedents will Hinder Future Online Poker Proposals in California

Online poker legislation in California will not happen in 2016, and possibly not for many more years due to the precedents introduced this year by Adam Gray.

Optimism Low for Regulated Online Poker in California

Rumored concessions regarding suitability standards may not be enough to push a bill to regulate online poker across the line by the legislative deadline.

Time Running Out for Regulated Online Poker in California

With limited opportunities remaining to enact laws before legislators take their final recess, time is running out for regulated online poker in California.

Tribes Want 10 Year Ban and $60M Fine for PokerStars

A coalition of Californian tribes opposed to PokerStars´ participation in a regulated market has proposed new criteria to resolve the suitability issue.

Committee Vote on California Online Poker Bill Postponed

An anticipated committee vote on Adam Gray´s “Internet Consumer Protection Act” was postponed yesterday after last-minute amendments were introduced.

Committee to Vote on “Half-Cooked” California iPoker Bill

Tomorrow – June 15th – the Californian Assembly Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on a “half-cooked” bill to regulate online poker in California.

Amendments to California iPoker Bill No Benefit to Players

The latest round of amendments to the California iPoker bill fail to address player concerns and will likely result in higher rake and lower player rewards.

Pappas Response to SacBee Op-Ed Full of Holes

John Pappas´ response to an Op-Ed attacking regulated online poker in California is as incorrect, poorly constructed and incredulous as the original article.

Issues Unresolved, but California Poker Bill Passes Anyway

Despite significant issues remaining unresolved, a bill to regulate online poker in California unanimously passed the Assembly GO Committee yesterday.

California Online Poker Hearing to Resolve Bad Actor Issue?

Later this month, California lawmakers will hold an online poker hearing and it’s quite likely that the bad actor issue will be discussed.

Are California Tribal Coalitions Fracturing over Amaya Allegations?

Allegations of insider trading and money laundering made against Amaya CEO David Baazov may be having a negative effect on PokerStars´ tribal partners.

California Tries Again to Legalize, Regulate Online Poker

California Bill 2863 seems to be gaining momentum, and intrastate online poker very well might be a reality in the near future.

Gray Indicates He Will Steamroller iPoker Bill Through

Assemblyman Adam Gray has indicated he will ignore objections to his bill for the regulation of online poker in California and steamroller it through.

California iPoker: One Step Forward. One Step Back.

As one Californian tribe jumps off the fence to support Adam Gray´s Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act, another tribe voices opposition to it.

California Online Poker Bill “Terrible” for Players

Adam Gray´s latest attempt to bring regulated online poker to California has been described as “terrible” by players contributing to the 2+2 poker form.

Further Disagreement about Online Poker in California

Assemblyman Adam Gray´s recent proposals aimed at bringing stakeholders together have resulted in further disagreement about online poker in California.

DFS Passage Prompts Calls for California iPoker Action

The rapid passage of a bill to regulate Daily Fantasy Sports in California has prompted calls for similar swift action on online poker legislation.

California Online Gambling Hearing Set for Wednesday

This coming Wednesday, California´s Governmental Organization Committee will hold a meeting to discuss online sports betting, DFS and online poker.

A Look Into California’s Confusing Online Poker Landscape

Despite 2015 beginning with a strong possibility for legalized online poker in California, year’s end has brought about more disappointment.

California Caught Misrepresenting Tribal Gaming Licenses

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the California Gambling Control Commission must pay back $36.2 million to the Pauma Band of Mission Indians.

California iPoker Moves Ahead… Slightly

While much of the poker world is currently focused on the WSOP in Las Vegas, there has been progress in regulated online poker in California.

Rincon Tribe in California Touts Player Protections

A California Indian tribe has spoken out on behalf of players, reminding the stakeholders involved not to forget consumers in ipoker regulation efforts.

Progress Hopeful for California Online Poker

While regulated online poker in California continues to be stymied by the gaming interests involved, progress may come in the form of legislative hearings.

CA Tribes State Opposition to PokerStars and Racetracks

The stalemate over online poker legislation in California continues as a coalition of tribes stated their formal opposition to an ipoker bill.

California Online Poker Situation Worsens

Hopes of regulating online poker in California have taken a turn for the worse with new rumors sprouting that the impasse is desired by certain lawmakers.

California Tribes Feel Pressure from RAWA

The recent introduction of legislation on the federal level aiming to ban online gambling has created anxiety among California tribes.

California Online Poker Stalled by 3 Tribal Groups

Online poker legislation in California continues to be held back by seven Indian tribes divided into three groups with separate agendas.

PokerStars Applauds iPoker Bill Introduced in California

California lawmakers have another online poker bill to consider during the 2015 legislative session as Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduced AB 167.

Iipay Nation Seeks Dismissal of Case in iBingo Dispute

As expected, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California are fighting back against the state shutting down their online bingo site. Gears Up for Real-Money Play

The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel have made a few changes to their website, apparently continuing to move forward with real-money play.

New California iPoker Bill Opposed by PokerStars Coalition

The online poker bill proposed earlier this week by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto does not sit well with the coalition that includes PokerStars.

New Online Poker Bill Introduced in California

As expected, an online poker bill was proposed in California for the 2015 legislative session, as the state tries again to pass ipoker regulations.

Iipay Nation not Backing Down vs. California

The Iipay Nation appear poised to vigorously defend their belief that they are within their legal right to operate online bingo and poker in California.

PokerStars’ New Jersey Launch not Coming Until 2015

Just about everybody expected PokerStars to be approved in New Jersey and to launch before the end of the year, but that likelihood appears dead.

California Tribe Insists Online Poker Launch is No Bluff

A California tribe that has repeatedly announced its intentions to launch an online poker site in advance of legislative approval claims the roll out is coming.

California Tribes More Unified than Ever on iPoker

Online poker players in California who have tired of waiting for the state’s gaming interests to find common ground can rejoice in some good news.

California Racetracks Likely Included in 2015 iPoker Bill

While both of the online poker bills proposed in California’s 2014 legislative session excluded horse racing interests, expect that to change in 2015.

California Intrastate Poker May Need to be Reconsidered

Although California lawmakers won’t be considering online poker legislation again until 2015, they may want to seriously look at interstate compacts.

California Poker Site Likely to Face Legal Challenges

Sometime next week, will be offering real-money online poker to players within the state of California.

Will California Regulate Online Poker in the Future?

This is a question that has been asked for more than a decade. Currently there is little optimism about regulated online poker in California due to animosity between some tribal casinos and a coalition of parties in favor of regulation. The tribal casinos claim to be in favor of regulated poker, but want “bad actors” – operators that provided a service to Californians post-UIGEA – excluded from any regulated market.

As the leading force in the coalition of parties is PokerStars, there is an impasse between the two sides. PokerStars won´t agree to any penalty (having already settled claims against the company with the Department of Justice), while the tribal casinos believe the site will have an unfair advantage due to the site´s previous goodwill among Californian online poker players.

The issue may be resolved in the future if federal law is reversed to allow online sports betting – in which case online poker may be included in a compendium of online gambling measures. However, this is not necessarily guaranteed, as the “bad actor” disagreement could extend beyond online poker to affect the regulation of all online activities. The conclusion is, don´t hold your breath.


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  2. Jump up ^ The Commerce Casino | FAQ
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