California Sports Betting Apps

California

California is the biggest state in the U.S. by population, yet it remains one of the few states without legalized sports betting. Despite many attempts, The Golden State has been unable to agree on any sort of gambling bill, and with tribal casinos all over the place, it will be hard for them to do so anytime soon.

Legal and licensed apps:

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All legal ways to bet on in California

Is online sports betting legal in California?No
Is in-person sports betting legal?No
Is daily fantasy sports legal?Yes
Is betting on college sports legal?No
Is horse racing betting legal?Yes
Is greyhound betting legal?No
Is political betting legal?No
Is eSports betting legal?No

Aside from horse racing and fantasy sports, there isn’t anything legal to bet on in California. While DFS apps are growing by the day and offer some exciting contests that are comparable to sports betting, they do not allow customers to wager on the variety of markets that most sports betting apps do.

The DFS apps available in CA include Underdog, Sleeper, Betr, DraftKings DFS, FanDuel DFS, and more, so residents are getting the creme of the crop when it comes to this market.

While California has strict gambling laws, it does offer some quality horse racing tracks. Residents can place horse racing bets in person and download multiple brand-name racebooks from some of the biggest operators in the game.

Online sports betting in The Golden State

Every state that has legalized betting or is working towards it has hurdles to jump through, and for California, one of the biggest hurdles is the tribal casinos. After controlling the gambling scene in CA for years, the tribal casinos know that if mobile betting is legalized in the state and big-name sportsbooks like DraftKings can enter the market, then their business will be greatly affected.

In 2021, “The Age-Verified Tribal Online and In-Person Sports Wagering & Homelessness Solutions Act” became the second tribal proposal and fourth sports betting initiative in the state. It would have legalized online and retail sports betting, but like the first proposal, it was unsuccessful.

Most recently, in 2022, Prop 26 and Prop 27 were introduced to voters on the ballot. Prop 26 would allow retail-only sports betting in tribal casinos and horse race tracks, while Prop 27 would allow mobile betting only and was backed by some powerful names in the industry, like BetMGM and FanDuel.

Unsurprisingly, the tribes fought tooth and nail against Proposition 27. With that, a petition was started to put this proposition on the ballot in the state, and after one million people signed it, it was allowed. However, even with the petition, residents voted against both propositions.

Getting a proposition like this on the ballot is a good first step, but the fact that it took a petition to even get to that point is not ideal moving forward. The household name sportsbooks will likely continue to fight for their rights to enter the state legally since it would be very profitable, but it doesn’t look like the discourse with the tribal casinos is stopping anytime soon.

Sports betting & gambling legislation in CA

Some states have been vehemently against sports betting or gambling legalization since it’s grown in popularity, but California is not one of those states. Since 2017, there have been consistent efforts to bring legalized sports betting to the Golden State, but between the tribes and a large portion of the state against the idea, every single initiative or proposition brought about has died at some point in the process.

Advocates for sports betting have tried many different approaches to legalization, some of which include Initiative 23-0031, which would allow the governor to negotiate some sort of amendment with the CA tribes.

Even specific cities in the state have tried to address the issue themselves. In 2021, Mayor Tasha Cerda, who is the mayor of Gardena, introduced the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act.” which is backed by four CA cities and would allow retail and online sports betting to be legalized.

Other sports betting propositions have included the aforementioned Proposition 26, which would have allowed in-person sports betting only at tribal casinos and racetracks. This proposition would have allowed games like roulette to be played at these casinos, which were backed financially by the tribes themselves.

Are online casinos legal in California?No
Are retail casinos legal?Yes, with restrictions
Are social sportsbooks legal?No
Are sweepstakes/social casinos legal?Yes
Is online poker legal?No
Is the lottery legal?Yes
The launch date of sports betting in California?TBD
How many legal sports betting apps are there in CA?0
How many legal retail betting sites are there in CA?0 (Over 60 tribal casinos)
Is remote registration allowed?No
Legal age for sports betting in California?- (Gambling: 18+)
California's tax rate for betting/gambling winnings1% - 12.3% (winnings treated as ordinary income)
Who regulates sports betting in California?Bureau of Gambling Control | State of California

Most recent updates from the CA sports betting scene

  • February 12, 2024: After losing the Super Bowl to the Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers have opened as favorites for the 2025 Super Bowl.

  • December 19, 2023: California tribes continue to reject two sports betting initiatives that aim to give gaming tribes a betting monopoly. CNIGA criticizes the lack of consultation with tribal nations and calls for the initiatives to be dropped.

  • December 6, 2023: Eagle1 Acquisitions Corp, backers of a California sports betting proposition, made amendments to gain tribal support. The initiative aims to give tribes exclusive retail and online betting rights through a constitutional amendment.

  • November 28, 2023: According to FM3 Research, public support of sports betting has only increased by 2% in CA voters from November 2022 to November of 2023. 

  • November 2, 2023: Two ballot initiatives for sports betting have been filed with the state’s Attorney General’s office, both of which need 857,000 signatures in order to make it on the November 2024 ballot.

In-person gambling sites and locations

There is no shortage of in-person casinos across California, as there are currently over 60. Of course, none of these allow for sports betting, but with this sheer number of casinos, it is easy to see how the Tribal leaders have a lot of say and influence on the state's gambling laws and regulations.

Each of these casinos must abide by a set of rules and regulations, which means gamblers must be at least 18 years of age.

TOP5 largest retail casinos in California:

  1. Yaamava' Resort Casino, 777 San Manuel Blvd S, Highland

  2. Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Pkwy, Temecula

  3. Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, 49500 Seminole Dr, Cabazon

  4. Thunder Valley Casino, 1200 Athens Ave, Lincoln

  5. Graton Casino & Resort, 288 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park

Sports betting in neighboring states

In terms of surrounding states, CA residents do not need to go far in order to find legalized gambling states. Of course, California is right next to Nevada, which many would consider the gambling capital of the U.S., but aside from NV, residents can also find legalized gambling in both Oregon and Arizona.

The big-name mobile apps that have been knocking on CA's door can be tested and found within these surrounding states, as long as the residents are within their borders.

StateOnline sports bettingRetail sports bettingDFSHorse Race betting
NevadaLegalLegalLegalLegal
OregonLegalLegalLegalLegal
ArizonaLegalLegalLegalLegal

What’s next for CA betting apps?

With how the sports betting legalization process has gone in CA up to this point, I can’t say optimism is the best word to use when describing the future of sports betting in the state. The state and Tribal leaders still seem far apart on any sort of agreement or bill, and it’s clear that voters are still unsure if they would support anything placed on the ballot.

Many reports say 2025 is the next time this topic could gain serious attention, but similar claims have not led to anything in the past.

Potential sports betting revenue impact on California's economy

Since sports betting is not legal in California, there is no revenue to report. However, In 2022, analysts at Eilers and Krejcik Gaming projected that CA would produce over $3.1 billion in sports betting revenue.

New York is the fourth largest state in the U.S., and in November alone, it amassed over $2 billion in handle. With numbers like that, it is no surprise that operators like DraftKings want to be able to operate in California.

While New York is the current largest state in terms of population to have legal sports betting, California has close to 20 million more residents in the state. With that, it’s even fair to say that if they legalized sports betting, they could outperform the projections that Eilers and Krejcik Gaming made, especially if the state can work out a deal to appease both the gaming tribes and big-name operators, which is obviously easier said than done.

California - Some commonly asked questions (FAQ):

What is the legal status of sports betting in California?

Discussions around gambling and sports betting have been going on for years in California, but bettors in the state still have no legal betting options outside of horse racing and daily fantasy sports apps.

What is the estimated amount of tax revenue CA can make from sports betting?

According to a review done by the Legislative Analyst’s Office in California during the most recent election, legal sports betting could bring in hundreds of millions to the state but likely nothing more than $500 million a year.

How many pro sports teams are in California in total?

Across all major sports, California has 21 pro teams scattered across the state.

What is the biggest letdown in the history of sports in the Golden State?

With 21 pro sports teams, California sports history has seen plenty of letdowns. Most recently, the 49ers have lost two Super Bowls since 2020, and in the 2016 NBA finals, the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.