Guide to Online Roulette & Gambling in California
If you want to play roulette online in California, you need to learn a few things before you can do it legally and safely. California has some restrictions in terms of legal gambling, and it is important to find out what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed to have both an enjoyable and profitable gambling experience. That's exactly why we've prepared this guide: we'll cover everything you need to know about online roulette and other types of gambling in California online casinos. First, we will share a list of the best CA online casinos and show you where you can get a satisfying online roulette California experience. Next, we'll talk about everything you need to know about California online casinos: Let's get started!
Gambling in California
Let's start with the basics: California gambling laws are included in many legal regulations such as the Business and Professions Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Government Code, and Penal Code. In other words, there is no single law on gambling: You have to study more than a dozen regulations to learn all the gambling regulations. However, all these regulations provide for a single supervisory body for all gambling activities (e.g., CA online casinos), regardless of type: the California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC).
So, what do these laws say and what exactly does the commission do? To answer this, we need to go back a bit. Before 1998, the gambling industry was unregulated in California. The Gaming Registration Act of 1984 referred to card rooms only and gave Attorney General's office the authority to oversee them. Since there was no internet at that time, naturally there was no provision for California online casinos.
The Gambling Control Act, which came into force in 1998, defined the types of gambling and brought different regulations for each. In the original version of this law, land-based casinos were banned, but in 2000, it was decided that they could only open on Indian lands. Since then, many changes have been made to the Gambling Control Act and as we mentioned above, all regulations regarding gambling are now included in a set of laws.
The Gambling Control Act has left the legal gambling control and licensing task to Attorney General and a five-person commission. The Commission can decide whether to allow legal gambling (for example, approve a license application), but the final decision rests with Attorney General. There is no example in practice where Attorney General has not followed the commission's recommendation, but he has the right to do so.
So, what do California gambling laws allow and prohibit under current regulations? Let's answer this by showing it as a list:
- No form of online gambling is considered legal. This means that there will be no local website to legally offer the online roulette California experience. Online services cannot be provided even for legal gambling types.
- Land-based gambling is legal for sports betting and casinos. However, legal betting is limited to pari-mutuel wagering and land-based casinos can only be opened in Indian territory.
- Lottery and bingo are legal. Both are offered by the state.
- There is one exception for card games in California: card games are allowed, even if not on Indian territory. In other words, it is possible for private businesses to open card rooms where card games such as poker are played for real money.
Although online gambling and therefore CA online casinos are banned, it is still possible to play in offshore casinos (i.e., non-US casinos): There are no regulations preventing players from doing so. In other words, you can still play online roulette and other casino games on offshore sites.
Traditional table games consist of roulette, baccarat, blackjack, craps, and poker. None of these games can be played online: operators in California are not allowed to offer this service. But in Indian casinos, you can find all these games and their different variants. As we mentioned above, there is an exception for card games: Any business that has obtained the necessary permissions from the commission can open a card room and offer card games for real money, even outside of the Indian region.
Card games are (other than poker) not defined: Any skill-based game played with cards is covered by the law. This means that in addition to poker, games such as blackjack and baccarat can be played in California card rooms. Roulette, craps, and other table games that do not include a card deck can only be played at land-based casinos.
Poker is a game that can be played in both card rooms and Indian casinos. In fact, we can say that it is the only game that is mentioned by name while card games are defined in the law. You can't play it online, but more than two dozen card rooms throughout the state allow you to play poker as long as you're at least 21 years old. We can say that these rooms are usually found in the Fresno and Napa regions. You can view the full list on the Attorney General's website.
In 2007, a law went into effect allowing the organization of charity poker tournaments. According to this law, it is possible to organize a "casino night" if the income generated will be used only for charity, and all variants of poker can be the subject of these events. Only those over the age of 21 can participate in these events. Both the event and the profits of the participants are not subject to tax. Let's also mention that poker is the online game that has been tried to be made legal the most in the last 5 years. If one day online gambling becomes legal in California, it will most likely start with online poker.
Slot games, and gaming terminals that operate by tossing a coin in general, are legal in California but are only found in Indian casinos. In other words, if you want to play slot machines, you should go to one of the tightly regulated land-based casinos. You have two options for playing online slots: First, you can play the games called “social gaming”.
These are slot games available on social media platforms and mobile apps that use virtual credits instead of real money. Online slots where no real money is used are allowed. The second option is to play in offshore casinos, as we mentioned above. There are no regulations penalizing the player for playing in such casinos. So, if you want to play slots (or online roulette) for real money, offshore casino sites are your only option.
Lottery and Bingo
Both lottery and bingo are legal in California. Both are offered by the government, meaning private companies cannot offer either of these services. However, there is a charity exception for non-profit organizations. As per the Business and Professions Code sections 19985-1987, any charity that deposits the $100 registration fee can arrange a bingo game or lottery.
Only those over the age of 21 can participate in these events and the profits must be used for charitable purposes only. Lotteries that are officially available to participate in are California State Lottery, Powerball, and Mega Millions. The state lottery, named “CaLottery”, has been held since 1985. Its grand prize can reach 35 million USD and the lottery agency is also allowed to offer scratch card games.
Land Based Casinos
Federally-recognized Indian tribes can open a casino on their territory. It's a federal right granted to them by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, so they can do it all over the United States, not just California. As of 2021, there are 109 tribes in California, 73 of them holding a casino license. Currently, California has 76 land-based casinos operated by different tribes. You must be at least 21 years old to enter the casinos.
These casinos have more than 70,000 slot machines and more than 2,000 table games, including roulette. Every casino is also a hotel, and they generate close to $9 billion in annual revenue. A deposit of 1,000 USD is required for the casino license application. If the application is accepted, an additional 6.600 USD must be paid as the license fee. Each license needs to be renewed twice a year, so we can say that the annual cost is 13,200 USD. You might think these are low numbers, but keep in mind that license fees are set by federal law: it's a vested right for Indians to be able to provide legal gambling services on their own land - the state isn't trying to monetize it.
Tax laws are very advantageous for legal casino gambling. You don't have to pay any state tax on gambling earnings in California (you just have to pay federal income tax). Indian casino operators are also not taxed due to federal laws. The income you make in card rooms is also not taxable, but room operators have to give 10% of their gross gambling earnings as tax. The only gambling winnings you have to pay tax in California are for pari-mutuel wagering: You have to pay 20.84% of the amount you wager as tax.
State Assemblyman Adam Gray has been trying to legalize online gambling in California since 2016. However, especially the horse racing industry is against this because it believes that online casinos and sports betting sites will reduce their profit rates. Until online gambling becomes legal, your only option for playing roulette and other casino games is offshore sites: We've already selected the best ones for you above. Until online casinos open in California, you can continue to play at these sites and benefit from different bonuses. Roulette is currently only legally playable at land-based casinos in California, but we hope online options will be available in the near future. When that day comes, we will gladly update our list of recommended casinos.