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Playing the Odds: A Look at the Legal Status of Online Casinos in California

As online casinos become more popular around the country, many are beginning to wonder about the legality of these websites where you can play slots and other casino games right from your phone. As fun and convenient as it can be to log in to your favorite site and begin playing on the fly, residents of California may not have such luck when it comes to online gambling laws.

Are online casinos legal in California?

Unfortunately for Californian gamblers, the state does not allow online gambling with real money, in any capacity. This includes online poker and sports betting. If anyone betting online in California wants to have a fun night playing poker, they will have to do so in person at their nearest brick-and-mortar casino on Native American property.

While residents in California can access social casino websites that do not use real money, real online casinos that deal with real cash are unfortunately still against the law.

Should California ever legalize online casino websites, it will be the digital equivalent of a new gold rush. When that happens, you will need a reputable source to fill you in on all the best places to go. A great online casino review site will be just what you need to find all the best online gambling locations. Just like their in-person equivalents, it is always important to go to a casino that is well-respected and has positive reviews. Be sure to read up about the sites and their games if you ever get the chance to play online casino games.

Why are online casinos not legalized in California?

Online gambling is illegal in California for more or less the same reason why it is not allowed in the vast majority of the United States: taxes and regulations. Because in-person gambling is easier to manage, there is a lot of leeway granted when it comes to Native American territories.

But because online casinos exist on the internet, that makes it far more difficult to manage from a legislative standpoint. Anyone could take their laptop with them and start gambling online, which would pose a lot of problems from a legal standpoint, should anyone do so on non-Native American soil.

If anyone wants to do online gambling, they’ll have to do so in one of the six states that have already legalized it.

Which are the six states where online gambling is legally allowed?

As implied earlier, online gambling is not completely illegal in the United States – this is because gambling laws are regulated by each state, rather than being enforced at a federal level.

There are four states in which online casinos and gambling are completely allowed:

  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • New Jersey

Additionally, there are two states that allow citizens to engage in online gambling, under limited circumstances. They are Nevada and Connecticut. With Nevada, there are huge restrictions on lotteries of all kinds. As for Connecticut, online gambling is permitted but only at specific sites and locations that are regulated by the government, enforced with their own very strict rules.

Michigan and Pennsylvania legalized online casinos in 2019, followed by West Virginia in 2020. New Jersey, in particular, was ahead of the curve compared to everyone else, legalizing online casinos back in 2011.

The point is that the United States is still in the process of accepting online casinos, from both a social and a legal standpoint. Within a year or two, we’ll probably see another state accept online gambling, and it may very well be the state of California. Considering how popular online casinos are becoming, it’s only a matter of time.

How the popularity of online gambling could change the laws

There is no denying that the Covid epidemic had a huge impact on many social lifestyles and economic industries around the world. In fact, there’s good reason to believe that the global lockdowns inadvertently helped boost the popularity of online and social casinos around the world. While online gambling was already growing, things really reached a turning point around 2020.

As everyone was forced to stay indoors, people took to their computers to do sports betting, play blackjack and try their luck on the lottery. This was true for people of all ages, as even ages 18+ in Gen Z have become enamored with the convenience of online gambling.

The number of people it has pulled in is impressive. Plus, online casinos are becoming very technologically advanced, ushering in virtual reality hardware and augmented reality services before many other businesses. This puts them well ahead of the curve, from both an innovational and economic standpoint.

The future of online casino legislation in California

While California is considered one of the most progressive states in the country, it has a much more complicated history with gambling of all descriptions.

Though many believe that online casino legalization in California is inevitable, there are currently no major talks in the works. Therefore, Californians may have to wait quite a while before they can gamble from the comfort of their own home, or on their commute to or from the office.

In November of 2022, a ballot was taken to determine if specific sports betting could be allowed online, but the motion failed. As determined as some people were, the majority opposed it without much resistance.

No matter what happens in California, online gambling is already spreading like wildfire around the world. More people of various ages are playing poker, the lottery, blackjack and slots, and betting on sports and horses through their phones and computers. As the entire industry continues to enjoy greater demand, one can only hope that states like California will recognize the potential and embrace the future.

They’re missing out on a huge opportunity to collect tax revenue. Considering how high taxes are in California, this could alleviate some of the pressure to increase other taxes in the future. Not only that, it seems obvious enough that if you ask the average California resident whether it should be their decision or not as to what games they are allowed to play online, they’ll likely say that it should be up to the individual to decide.

After all, many people feel that what people spend their money on should be their own business, as long as it isn’t harming anyone and is done responsibly. With regulations in place that prevent players from playing for too long or agreeing to take on debt from the website they’re playing on, online casino games are arguably safe.


Like most other US states, California does not yet allow people to gamble online. This is under the premise that it’s for their own protection. Whether you agree with this or not, that’s the law in California. However, gambling in person is in fact legal on property owned by Native American tribes. Native American tribes have the legal right to govern themselves, and that includes the laws of their lands.

In conclusion, it seems likely that over the next few years we’ll see major changes with regard to the right to gamble online in states around America – let’s just hope that California is included.

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