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Your Guide to Gambling Laws in California
(Penal Code § 330 Explained)

In California, only card rooms, bingo and pari-mutuel wagering on horse races are legal. Other casino games, such as slot machines, poker, and blackjack, are limited to tribal casinos operated on tribal lands under state-tribe compacts.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is Considered Illegal Gambling in California?

California Penal Code § 330 PC prohibits gambling anytime a “banking or percentage game” is used. However, it is legal in California to play social poker games and other games of chance, skill, and strategy involving individual bets.

Gambling technically becomes a crime whenever there is a “bank” or “house” that collects funds or takes a “rake.” All gaming participants face being arrested, including players, dealers, and hosts. Illegal gaming is a misdemeanor in California that can be penalized by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1000.

Is Gambling at Home Legal in California?

Most recreational gambling games are legal in California, while others could potentially get participants into trouble. Luckily for most people, playing poker and other card games with friends and family members is legal. It is when these games are run for profit by the host that they become illegal.

Is it Legal to Own a Slot Machine in California?

Many people enjoy going to casinos and playing slots. Some people decide to cut out the middleman and buy a slot machine of their own to play at home. Unfortunately, unless the machine is an antique that is more than 25 years old, this is illegal in California. Slot machines are outlawed in California unless they are on tribal grounds, being transported through the state, or are antiques not being used to gamble.

Is Sports Betting Legal in California?

Sports betting is still illegal in California. You are not allowed to place a bet on any sporting event in California, with the exception of horse racing. There were 2 mobile and online sports betting initiatives that went on the ballot in California in November 2022, Prop 26 and Prop 27, but both measures failed to pass.

Why is Sports Betting Illegal in California?

The main reason why sports betting is illegal in California is that Indian tribes in the state believe online sports betting could mean fewer people visiting their casinos. There are 80 Native American casinos in California which bring in approximately $8 billion a year, similar to the revenue pulled in by Las Vegas casinos.

Why are Indian Casinos Allowed in California?

California became the birthplace of Indian casinos in 1987 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. The Court ruled that tribes can operate casinos outside of state jurisdiction if the state has not directly prohibited gambling.

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