Sports Betting: What You Need to Know About Gambling in California

In California, you can bet on horse races, buy lottery tickets, play poker in card rooms and play slots at Tribal Casino.

Nevada, right next door, is undoubtedly the gambling capital. However, after Nevada, California has more slot machines than any other state. This is one of the indicators of the state’s gambling industry.

The gambling industry, like many industries, was hit hard during the pandemic. From 2019 to 2020, domestic commercial game revenue declined by more than 25% from 2019 to 2020. Then in 2021, it recovered faster than other economies and brought in more revenue than the previous year. Tribal Casino also had a record-breaking year in his 2021.

In this November’s election, Californians will take gambling even further and decide whether to allow sports betting. A fierce battle between gaming companies, tribes, cardrooms, and more has earned him two separate initiatives to break campaign cash records and legalize sports betting by voting.

Here’s what you need to know about gambling in California.

You have options when it comes to gambling in California.

tribal casino

The 69 licensed tribal casinos allow you to play slots, lottery games, card games such as baccarat and blackjack (where players bet against the house), and games such as poker (where players bet against each other).

card room

There are 84 licensed card rooms where you can play poker, pai gow and other games of player wagering. The card room also offers options other than card games, such as drawing. They cannot offer games in which players wager against houses.


At nearly 23,000 retailers across the state, including convenience stores and gas stations, you can buy scratchers or fill out tickets to sweepstakes like MegaMillions and PowerBall.

horse racing

You can bet on horse races at one of the state’s four private racetracks, one of five racetracks, or one of 23 simulcast locations. There you can watch the races on TV and place bets. You can also place bets from home or anywhere using online pre-deposit betting.

charity games

Certain non-profit organizations can host card nights and raffles for charitable purposes. Cities and counties can choose to allow bingo for charitable purposes.

Problem gambling “includes all patterns of gambling behavior that jeopardize, disrupt, or impair personal, familial, or professional pursuits,” according to the National Council on Problematic Gambling. A study commissioned by the State of California in 2006 found that 3.7% of California adults will experience problem or pathological gambling at some point in their lives. This equates to approximately 1.1 million adults in 2020. Since then, the state has not commissioned an investigation. A 2006 study also found higher prevalence of problem or pathological gambling among men, African Americans, the unemployed and the disabled.

Gambling addiction can cause a variety of problems in a person’s life, including mental health problems, increased drug and alcohol use, financial problems, and strained relationships. Some people do. Of the approximately 2,549 people who called the California gambling problem hotline on behalf of themselves or someone they know in 2019, gamblers had an average debt of approximately $24,000. Their median household income was about $74,000.

There are several options for getting help. California has a toll-free hotline for assistance and resources (1-800-426-2537 or 1-800-GAMBLER). There is also Gamblers Anonymous, a support group program like Alcoholics Anonymous, and Gam-Anon, a support system for friends and family of gamblers. California also has programs that provide free treatment, including counseling, outpatient treatment, and residential treatment, to gamblers or those affected by gambling addiction, including spouses and family members. No health insurance required.

That all changed in 2018 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could legalize sports betting. Since then, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of sports betting, either in person, online, or both.

Common bets include:

  • Moneyline: bet on team victory
  • point spread: Bet on the team’s win or loss for a certain number of points, goals, runs, etc.
  • Up/Down: Bet that the two teams combined will over or under a certain number of points, goals, runs, etc.
  • Parley: Multiple bets linked together. Bettors must win each individual bet to get a payout.
  • Prop bet: A broad category of bets on things that can happen during a game but have nothing to do with the final outcome of the game. Which team will score first? How many touchdowns will Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs throw?

Some big games even have prop bets that have nothing to do with what’s happening on the field. For example, how long will the Super Bowl national anthem last, or what color Gatorade will be thrown to the winning coach?

A Morning Consult poll conducted in December 2021 found that 25% of Americans over the age of 21 have bet on sports and 18% say they bet on sports at least monthly. That’s up from his 10% monthly bet when Morning Consult surveyed in January 2021.

A May 2022 study commissioned by the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association and conducted by research firm Leger’s found that, even in states that allow online sports betting, 55% of online sports bettors said they were playing at least some of the time. You are using an unregulated platform.

California lawmakers tried to negotiate a deal on sports betting in 2020, but it didn’t work out. So this November, voters will be given the opportunity to consider two different initiatives of his to legalize sports betting.

Proposition 26 is paid by Indian tribes and legalizes sports betting only in tribal casinos and the state’s four privately owned racetracks. It also allows tribal casinos to start offering roulette and dice games, including craps. And through litigation, it would create a new avenue for enforcing some gaming laws.

Proposition 27, funded by gaming companies across the country, legalizes mobile and online sports betting outside of Native American tribal lands. It would also create a new division in state departments of justice to regulate sports betting. The Office of Legislative Analysts estimates that the proposal could generate somewhere in the mid-hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the state, but it likely won’t exceed $500 million a year.

If both proposals are passed, both may come into force, but may ultimately be considered by the courts.

According to a 2018 report from the American Gaming Association, California has the largest tribal gaming sector of any state as measured by revenue.

Federally recognized tribes may offer gambling such as slot machines, lottery games, and card games when negotiating a Tribal Nation Pact with the governor. The agreement embodies details such as how state regulators are allowed to inspect casinos and how much gaming revenue tribes share with California or local governments.

Focusing on the welfare of the tribe and its members, government operations, economic development, charity, and local government agencies, there are limits on what tribes can spend their game earnings on.

The Cahuilla Band, a Southern California tribe of Indians, together earns about 75 percent of the tribal government’s budget from casinos, hotels and gas stations on the reservation, according to Chairman Daniel Salgado. That is true for social services such as child addiction cases. The public works department just paved the first road on the reservation about a year and a half ago. Fire Department and others, Salgado said: Salgado said he receives $1.1 million a year from the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund because the tribe has fewer than 350 gaming consoles.

In 2016, California tribal casinos supported 124,274 jobs and sold $19.96 billion worth of goods and services, according to the American Gaming Association. This includes non-gambling sales such as hotel rooms, drinks and entertainment.

You can buy lottery tickets and scratchers at convenience stores and gas stations throughout the state. Lottery sales have grown steadily in recent years, from about $3 billion in 2008 to about $7 billion in 2017.

Californians voted to create a lottery, in part to support public education. K-12 schools receive most of the lottery funds used for education and spend the money primarily on teacher salaries and educational materials. However, money from lotteries contributes a very small portion of the total K-12 funding, about 1%. In the 2020-21 budget, the lottery donated $1.8 billion to public schools.

Cardrooms, also known as card clubs, are statewide businesses that offer card games such as poker and pai gow where players bet against each other. It existed in some form even before California was a state, and gold was especially popular during his rush days. Unlike tribal casinos, card rooms cannot offer slot machines or games for players to bet on at home.

Cardroom may violate the law. In 2021, San Bruno card room Artichoke Joe’s Casino will pay a $5 million federal fine and face California judicial proceedings for misleading regulators and violating federal laws aimed at combating money laundering. agreed to pay the Department a $5.3 million settlement. The card room breach had been going on for eight years. Several card rooms have been ordered to close in his 2020 for not following the state’s COVID-19 mandate. And in 2019, one of the state’s largest cardrooms, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, sued misleading gambling regulators for a $3.1 million payout he settled with state attorneys for federal money laundering. Paid $2.8 million for violating prevention laws.

Some card rooms are a major source of revenue for the city’s municipalities. For example, the City of Hawaiian Gardens received approximately 70% of its revenue from The Gardens Casino in its 2019-2021 budget.

At fairs and private race tracks across the state, you can hear horses leaping from the starting gates and the clatter of hooves.

However, you can bet on these races at any of the state’s 23 casinos, county fairs, or even from home. Out-of-state people can also bet on races held in California. This is the only form of sports betting currently permitted in the Golden State.

The most common bets on horse racing are:

  • “Win” betting on horses to win races
  • A ‘place’ bet on a horse that will come first or second in a race
  • In the ‘Show’ you bet on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place horses.

Animal rights groups have raised concerns about the sport, especially after a spike in horse deaths at the Santa Anita Racecourse in 2019. That year, 42 of his horses died on that racecourse alone, causing concern and changing regulations. Legislators made it easy for states to suspend racing licenses. The state commissions that regulate horse racing have also enacted new rules limiting how often jockeys can whip their horses and tightening restrictions on drugs that can be given to horses before a race.

In the wake of the new regulations, horse deaths have dropped dramatically from 144 in 2018-19 to 72 in 2020-21.

Grace covers the California economy at CalMatters. Previously, he was the editor of The Washington Monthly. She is a graduate of Pomona College.More by Grace Geday

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