California Sports Betting in 2021

With a population approaching 40 million and one of the most lucrative gambling industries in the nation, California’s unwavering appetite for legal sports betting has led to a surge of recent proposals to bring legal wagering to the Golden State.

California would undoubtedly become the most lucrative sports betting market in the United States. If recent measures find their way onto the November 2022 ballot and gain voter approval, the Gold Rush of legal online sports betting could arrive in California as early as 2023.

Our California sports betting guide will keep you in the loop as things unfold on the west coast.

California, United States
California Flag
California, United States
Online betting in the Golden State
California Map
  • User Icon

    Population: 39.6 million

  • 21+ Icon

    Legal age for sports betting: 21

  • Dice Icon

    Online sports betting: TBD

  • Book Icon

    Retail sportsbooks: TBD

  • Percent Icon

    Sports betting revenue: N/A

California Map

Licensed U.S. online sportsbooks

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#9
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#12
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#13
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#16
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Payout speed 3-10 days

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#17
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#20
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#21
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  • Great mobile apps for iOS and Android
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Payout Speed 2-7 days

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#24
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Payout Speed 1-5 days

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#28
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#30
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#31
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#32
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#33
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Payout Speed: 3-6 days

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#34
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  • Special promotions and odds boosts
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#35
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#36
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#39
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Payout Speed: 1-5 days

Deposits and Withdrawals:

Is sports betting legal in California?

No, sports betting is not legal in California. But one initiative to legalize sports betting will be on the November 2022 ballot — and two more could follow suit.

With three separate sports betting measures on tap, there's renewed optimism in the Golden State. The California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative, a tribal-backed proposal aiming to legalize in-person wagering at tribal casinos and racetracks, is the most likely to succeed. The measure has already secured enough votes to appear on the 2022 ballot.

A second measure seeks to legalize sports betting online and in tribal casinos, professional sports venues, licensed racing associations, and other state-run gaming facilities. Four cities — Colma, Gardena, Inglewood, and San Jose — are behind the initiative.

The third and most recent measure to legalize online wagering is backed by seven of the largest sports betting operators in the nation — Bally’s, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Penn National/Barstool Sportsbook, WynnBET, and Fanatics (who are rumored to be closing in on an acquisition). The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act promises to allocate 85% of sports betting tax revenue to a new fund for homelessness and mental health. The Act aims to complement the tribal proposal as any online sportsbook launching in California would be required to partner with a tribal casino. 

Initiatives will have until April 26, 2022, to gain two-thirds of the vote from the state legislature or 997,139 signatures from registered California voters. 

Timeline of sports betting in California

The Golden State now has three separate sports betting initiatives ticketed for the November 2022 ballot. While nothing is imminent, CA is creeping closer to gaining some clarity on the possibility of legal sports wagering in 2023.

Here’s a brief history of everything sports betting in California:

  • May 14, 2018: The Supreme Court deems the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. With the federal ban on sports betting lifted, each U.S. state is granted the autonomy to legalize and regulate sports wagering as it sees fit.

  • June 27, 2019: Sen. Bill Dodd introduces SCA 6, a measure that would legalize and regulate sports betting in California.

  • Nov. 13, 2019: The California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative, a measure supported by 18 Californian tribes, is first introduced.

  • June 22, 2020: Sen. Bill Dodd withdraws SCA 6 from consolidation, citing COVID-19 and legislative deadlines as hurdles preventing the bill from getting across the finish line.

  • May 27, 2021: The California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative qualifies for the November 2022 ballot after receiving more than one million signatures.

  • Aug. 12, 2021: Four California cities — led by Gardena Mayor Tasha Cerda —  introduce the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act, a proposal aiming to legalize online and retail sports betting.

  • Aug. 31, 2021: The California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support Act is filed with the state attorney general’s office. The third sports betting initiative eligible for the November 2022 ballot is backed by DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and others.

  • Nov. 5, 2021: A fourth sports betting initiative — and second tribal proposal — is filed by the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, Federated Indians of the Wilton Rancheria, and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. "The Age-Verified Tribal Online and In-Person Sports Wagering & Homelessness Solutions Act" would legalize online and retail sports betting in California.

Who can bet on sports in California?

Sports betting is currently illegal in California. Should any of the current proposals come to fruition sometime in 2023, adults 21 years and older should be permitted to place sports wagers in the Golden State.

21plus Legal age

The legal age to gamble in California is 18. However, recent proposals to legalize sports wagering have maintained bettors will have to be 21 years old to place a legal bet.

bank Retail sportsbooks

There are no legal retail sportsbooks operating in California. However, over 50 tribal casinos are clamoring to change this. If the California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative comes to pass, CA could be home to the largest collection of retail sportsbooks in the country.

21plus Mobile betting

Mobile sports betting has been included in two of the three proposed measures to legalize sports betting in California. Regardless of the outcome of the November 2022 ballot, one has to believe mobile betting will, at the very least, be an ongoing discussion in California — even if it is years away.

21plus Remote registration

If legal online sports betting arrives in California, anyone 21 and older should be able to register with a sportsbook from anywhere in the state. 

globe Within state borders

When California legalizes sports betting, bets will only be accepted by those physically located in the Golden State. This goes without saying for retail sports wagering, but federal law requires all online wagers to be confirmed in-state as well.

percent Taxable winnings

In addition to the 24% federal tax on gambling winnings, California bettors will be saddled with CA state income tax on their sports betting profits. Although California has the unenviable claim to the highest tax rate in the United States (up to 13.3%), most residents fall in a much lower tax bracket.

 

Crossing state lines: Nearby betting sites 2021

Luckily for Californians, legal sports betting resides on the other side of the state border. California’s three bordering states — Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon — have all legalized online sports betting. 

Arizona stands as the top option with remote registration and an impressive and growing lineup of online sportsbooks. Meanwhile, Nevada boasts dozens of retail locations that are sure to satisfy the appetite of the in-person gambler. Oregon, while restricted to just one online option — the state-run Scoreboard sportsbook — offers more than Californians will find in their home state. 

The pros and cons of CA sports betting

California does not have legal sports betting, but it does have hope. The Golden State has the potential to grow into a sports bettor’s paradise, and with several proposals in place, CA is closer to offering regulated sports wagering than ever before.

But amidst the hope is the uncertainty that there is no guarantee any of the three current proposals will turn to gold in California. For most residents, when it comes to legal sports betting, they’ll believe it when they see it.

California sports betting
Pros
  • Exciting potential sports betting market
  • Nearby states have legalized sports betting
Cons
  • No legal sports betting until 2023 at the earliest
  • Mobile betting not guaranteed
  • Exorbitant taxes on gambling winnings for high rollers

How to start betting in California

The details are murky, but California bettors will almost certainly have several sportsbooks to choose from when all is said and done. If online betting is legalized, sports wagers will be accessible statewide and in brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. 

1

Select a sportsbook

The sportsbook selection process includes reading reviews and identifying the most favorable sign-up bonuses and betting lines. It’s also best practice to read over a sportsbook’s terms and conditions page to fully understand the parameters of its offerings.

2

Register in person or online

Suppose online sports betting is a part of California’s new sports betting law. In that case, gamblers will likely be able to complete the registration process from anywhere in the state via a mobile device and secure internet connection.

There is a chance that retail sportsbooks will be the only game in town, however. If this happens, California bettors will have to be physically present to place a wager.

3

Claim a bonus

Online sportsbooks across the country offer some truly impressive welcome bonuses to bettors. With California shaping up to be a desirable and competitive market, CA bettors should benefit from the same promotional offerings if online betting arrives. Expect to encounter bonuses such as risk-free bets, no-deposit bonuses, and deposit matches.

4

Deposit funds

Sportsbooks offer a variety of methods to fund your account. Bettors in California should be able to use some of the following options: PayPal, credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers, PayNearMe, and cash.

Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the relevant terms and conditions to avoid any unexpected transaction fees.

5

Choose your bet types

When legal sports betting arrives, bettors can expect to find all of the popular bet types in California. These include moneylines, Over/Unders (totals), point spreads, parlays, teasers, futures, live bets, and more.

6

Start betting

Some sportsbooks will offer bettors more favorable betting lines than others. Make sure you’re able to spot these before confirming your first wagers. Shopping around and creating multiple sportsbook accounts is a great way to take advantage of sign-up bonuses and quickly pivot to the best betting lines.

7

Withdraw funds

Fund withdrawals can generally be completed via the same method used for deposits. Wait times, however, can vary. Transactions typically take a few days to process but can take longer with some sportsbooks.

odds icon Reading the odds 

U.S. sportsbooks use American odds to display betting odds. Favorites are assigned a minus (-) sign, and the accompanying number tells bettors how much money they’ll need to put on the line to win $100 in profit. For example, -350 odds indicate a bettor must wager $350 to win $100.

You can spot underdogs by looking for a plus (+) sign. The number here represents the amount you could profit when placing a $100 bet. For example, +250 odds mean a $100 wager could net you $250.

Although American odds are the go-to option in the U.S., you may prefer to view odds as decimals or fractions. Our odds converter allows you to switch between the three main types of odds quickly.

 

What you can't bet on in California

Nothing is in play for Californian bettors at the moment. As the state's future sports betting landscape begins to take shape, we'll learn more about what will be on and off the table.

Money Icon Politics

Barring a drastic change, Californians will not be permitted to bet on politics. This type of wager is not available anywhere in the U.S.

Money Icon Entertainment award ceremonies

California sportsbooks could offer betting lines on popular awards shows like the Acadamy Awards and Emmy Awards, but this remains to be seen.

Money Icon Esports

Esports betting has become increasingly popular and could be a welcome addition to the California betting scene.

What about California college sports?

Many states do not allow bettors to place wagers on in-state college teams. Could California follow suit? We'll be keeping an eye on this one, as college betting would be a boon for the Golden State.

Home team advantage: California sports

California is home to more professional sports franchises — and most likely sports fans — than any other state. But when legal sports betting arrives, be careful not to let your fandom cloud your judgment. Always do your due diligence before betting on your hometown squad. Check out our how to bet guides to get started. 

NHL
Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
NBA
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
Sacramento Kings
NFL
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers
MLB
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers
Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants

Other types of gambling

With over 60 tribal casinos, 74 cardrooms, and some of the most well-renowned horse racetracks in the country, the California gambling scene is alive and well. 

Online gambling, however, is illegal. Pari-mutuel horse race betting is the only form of legal online betting in the state.

casino Casino

For a state that has deemed online gambling taboo, California has a thriving casino gambling industry. With more brick-and-mortar casinos than any other U.S. state not named Nevada or Oklahoma, the Golden State generates nearly $8 billion in revenue, after winnings, annually.

Each casino offers a complete lineup of games, including slots, blackjack, and baccarat. If the California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative passes the November 2022 vote, roulette and dice games, such as craps, would also be legalized in CA.

In California, sweepstakes casinos are the only online game in town. The sweepstakes model abides by the CA criminal code, allowing gamblers to earn real money using virtual currency.

poker Poker

There are dozens of poker rooms for card sharks to enjoy in the Golden State.

When it comes to online poker, California’s tribal casinos, cardrooms, and racetrack operators have been in a stalemate, as all efforts to legalize online poker have fallen short. With interested parties failing to come to terms on how this gaming expansion would benefit each stakeholder, they’ve kicked the can down the road on multiple occasions.

Horse and jockey Horse racing

Pari-mutuel horse racing has been legal in California since 1933. The California Horse Racing Board oversees one of the largest markets in the U.S., including some of the most beautiful racetracks in the nation. 

Santa Anita Park, Del Mar Racetrack, Golden Gate Fields, and Los Alamitos Race Course stand as CA’s top destinations for live horse racing. Many affiliate off-track betting (OTB) sites allow gamblers to get in on the action away from the racetrack, while legal bets can also be placed online.

Horse and jockey Daily fantasy sports

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests operate in an unregulated grey area in California. Major operators DraftKings and FanDuel serve the nation’s largest DFS market without opposition, so it’s unlikely lawmakers will take further action any time soon.

Responsible gaming in California

With such a robust gambling industry, the unfortunate reality is that many Californians fall victim to gambling addiction. The California Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG) provides education, prevention, and treatment for those in need. 

Californians who recognize they may have a gambling problem are also encouraged to consider the state’s self-exclusion program. Here, individuals can voluntarily ban themselves from all gambling establishments for a specified period of time.

Legal U.S. sports betting markets

When California ultimately legalizes sports betting, it will join the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, TennesseeVirginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Sportsbooks to avoid in California

It's been a long wait in California, but frustrated gamblers should refrain from placing sports bets with unregulated offshore sportsbooks. Any operator claiming to offer legal sports betting in CA is not to be trusted. Avoid these sportsbooks at all costs.

Bookname
Blacklist Star Rating
  • Allegations of withdrawal issues
  • No license information available on site
  • Poor customer service
Bookname
Blacklist Star Rating
  • Multiple reports of slow payments
  • Allegations of non-payments
  • Risk of account closure simply for winning bets
Bookname
Blacklist Star Rating
  • Reports of confiscated winnings
  • Slow customer support response times

California sports betting FAQs

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