Is Sports Betting Legal in California?

Two of California’s National Football League teams are pumped for a prime-time matchup against one another. Bragging rights are on the line.

Some sports fans want an explanation of the betting line on the big game. Others want to know if they are in line for a huge sports betting win if they play the underdog.

But there’s just one problem. Sports betting, while legal now, isn’t available at local casinos in this West Coast state … yet.

Fans don’t have to be shut out, though. There are plenty of online gaming sites — like Bovada, TopBet and BetOnline — and you can expect the VIP treatment, like cash back offers, when you join.

These sites offer more than just the moneyline, point spread and over/under totals as well. They take the game to the next level with props and alternative betting lines.

Betting Laws in California

Almost 40 million people live in California. Los Angeles, with four million residents, is the state’s largest city, while Sacramento is the state capital.

Gambling, whether it’s horse racing or slot machines, is regulated at the state level. Generally speaking, all legalized gambling within California is limited to the following areas:

• Card rooms.

• Indian casinos.

• The California State Lottery.

• Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing.

• Charitable gaming.

Every individual casino, bingo hall or racetrack has the ability to set the legal gambling age at whatever number they wish, provided the number is above 18. Though the law is set at 18, some gambling dens have raised this number to 19 or even 21.

California has 69 total Native American casinos including 50 Indian casinos, 16 Indian casino resorts and three mini-casinos. These casinos host 70,000-plus total slot machines and 2,000-plus table games. These numbers are more than any other state.

Some of the more popular card rooms in California include the Bay 101 in San Jose, the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles and the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles. 

State card rooms range from small pub-type places to sprawling, spacious, action-packed floors filled with over 200 tables and thousands of gamblers.

The state lottery, which started in October 1985, offers scratch cards and draw games, including the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions games.

California is one of the largest horse racing hubs in the U.S. with such well-known racetracks as Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita. The thoroughbred championships, known as the Breeders Cup, have been held at California tracks 13 times since 1984.

California Sports Betting Laws

In July 2017, Assembly member Adam Gray introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow the state “to permit sports wagering only if a change in federal law occurs.” The proposed amendment specifically referred to PASPA. 

“All other gaming activities in California are subject to regulations that ensure the safety of consumers,” Gray said in a press release. “Sports wagering should be treated no differently.” 

Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling in May 2018, Gray reiterated his desire to further a pro-sports betting constitutional amendment.

An initiative to legalize sports betting in the state was proposed for the November 2020 ballot by a political consultant working with California card clubs, online and out-of-state gambling firms and sports leagues.

As the U.S. continues to adapt to changing legislation at the state level surrounding online gambling, no definitive rules have been put in place thus far in California and the topic remains somewhat of a grey area.

California’s Major Sports Teams

There’s no state quite like California and its 18 professional sports teams in the four major leagues. New York has the next most pro franchises at 10.

A 2017 study by Oxford Economics examined the economic impact of legalized sports betting, and projected a $1.2-billion increase in gross domestic product in California.

National Football League

Californians have many options when it comes to cheering for an NFL team — the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles ChargersOakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers.

The Raiders have won the Super Bowl three times (1977, 1981 and 1984), while the 49ers have captured the NFL crown five times (1982, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1995).

The Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016, while the Chargers left San Diego for Los Angeles in 2017.

National Basketball Association

The most dominant professional team in sports happens to play its home games in Oakland. The Golden State Warriors, thanks to Kevin Durant and the Splash Brothers, have won three of the last four NBA Finals and four straight Western Conference titles.

Three other NBA teams call California home — the Los Angeles LakersLos Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings. The Lakers have won 11 of their 16 NBA championships since moving in 1960 from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, the most recent in 2010. The Kings won their lone title in 1951.

Major League Baseball

There are five Major League Baseball franchises in the state of California — Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimLos Angeles DodgersOakland AthleticsSan Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers and Giants were the first teams to move to the West Coast, leaving New York state after the 1957 season.

The Dodgers have won five World Series title in L.A., the most recent in 1988. The Athletics have won four titles in Oakland, the most recent in 1989. The Giants have captured three titles in San Fran — all of them in this decade. The Angels won their only title in 2002, while the Padres have never won the World Series.

National Hockey League

Even hockey has deep roots in California as three teams take to the ice each season — the Los Angeles KingsAnaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

The Kings have won the Cup twice (2012 and 2014). The Ducks won in 2007, while the Sharks have been to the finals once and lost.

Online sportsbooks in California

Can you use Bovada in California? Yes you can. See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: