Although some might find it foolish, there is nothing quite like the rush you get when you hit it big in a casino. Heck, even if you leave with ten dollars more than you walked through the door with, it feels good. You might already know that not all states allow casinos to operate, but are casinos legal in California?
While some forms of gambling are legal and regulated by the state, casinos are illegal in California unless they are operated on tribal land or on some cruise ships.
The rules and regulations surrounding casinos, and gambling in general, are a bit complicated in the Golden State, but below you can find answers to some of the most asked questions regarding gambling in California.
What are Casinos?
In the most basic sense, a casino is a room where people gather for the purpose of entertainment and gambling. However, not all places where people gamble would be defined as a casino. For example, there are restaurants in Las Vegas where people can play slots while waiting for their breakfast, but they are not classified as a casino.
Typically, casinos are combined with a hotel, resort, cruise ship, or some other type of entertainment facility. Unlike other gambling facilities, such as card rooms, casinos host a wide variety of games and will often have both slot machines and table/card games.
One of the biggest differences between a casino and another gambling facility is that players are betting against the “house” rather than one another. That “house” is always guaranteed to make more than they are paying out, which means they are facilitating a gambling activity for profit. Drinking is also common in casinos, and many places will offer free drinks to their gamblers as an incentive to stay.
Is Gambling Illegal in California?
According to the California Constitution, penal code 330, hosting, dealing, or playing the following games is illegal:
- Rouge et noire
- Hokey pokey
- Banking or percentage games played with dice or cards
However, there are some exceptions, and certain gambling activities are allowed and regulated by the state. These include:
- Tribal casinos
- Card rooms
- Horse racing
While gambling is technically illegal, a fun game among family and friends is allowed since it is only when the host is running the game for a profit that it becomes illegal.
Are All Casinos Illegal in California?
No. In fact, at the time of writing this, there are somewhere in the realm of 80 casinos running legally in California, with 9 of them found in San Diego alone. These facilities offer everything from slots and table games to poker and blackjack. Of course, individuals must be at least 18 to enter the facility and at least 21 to drink.
So, how are casinos illegal in California and yet there are still up to 80 operating in the state? Although hosting any gambling activities is illegal in the Golden State, there are some exceptions. Casinos may operate on tribal land and on some cruise ships.
California became the first state to see Indian casinos in 1987 after the Supreme Court ruled that tribes could operate casinos outside of state authority so long as the state had not banned gambling completely. The reasoning for this was to allow tribes a way to secure an income to promote economic development and self-sufficiency within the tribe. Since California does still allow some forms of gambling, Indian casinos may be run legally.
Are Online Casinos Legal in California?
Although there has been a push to legalize online gambling in California, it is currently still illegal. One of the biggest contenders was the horse racing industry, which claimed they would lose millions in revenue if online gambling were legalized. Still, even after offering to pay a cool 60 million a year to the horse racing industry, online gambling has yet to be legalized.
Can residents just go online and gamble anyway? Sure, you might be able to find a website that will allow you to sign up and hand over your hard-earned, but any legitimate gambling site will ask for your information upon registration. If you live in a state where online gambling is illegal, they will not allow you to create a gambling account. Any site that does allow you to is running illegally and that would not be a website I would trust with my financial information.
Legal Casinos in California
While it would be impossible to list every casino in the state, especially since some are just a building with a few slot machines inside, you can find an extensive list of casinos that can be found near some of the most popular cities in the Golden State below in alphabetical order.
- Aqua Caliente Casino Resort Spa – Rancho Mirage
- Aqua Caliente Spa Resort Casino – Palm Springs
- Agua Caliente Casino – Cathedral City
- Augustine Casino – Coachella
- Barona Resort & Casino – Lakeside
- Bear River Casino Hotel – Loleta
- Black Oak Casino – Tuolumne
- Blue Lake Casino & Hotel – Blue Lake
- Cache Creek Casino Resort – Brooks
- Cahuilla Casino – Anza
- Casino Pauma – Pauma Valley
- Cher-Ae Heights Casino – Trinidad
- Chicken Ranch Casino – Jamestown
- Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino – Coarsegold
- Chumash Casino Resort – Santa Ynez
- Colusa Casino Resort – Colusa
- Coyote Valley (Shodakai Casino) – Redwood Valley
- Desert Rose Casino – Alturas
- Diamond Mountain Casino & Hotel – Susanville
- Eagle Mountain Casino – Porterville
- Elk Valley Casino – Riverside
- Fantasy Springs Resort Casino – Indio
- Feather Falls Casino & Lodge – Oroville
- Garcia River Casino – Point Arena
- Gold Country Casino & Hotel – Oroville
- Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center – Campo
- Graton Resort & Casino – Rohnert Park
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain – Wheatland
- Harrah’s Northern California – Ione
- Harrah’s Resort Southern California – Valley Center
- Havasu Landing Resort & Casino – Havasu Lake
- Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel – Jackson
- Jamul Casino San Diego – Jamul
- Konocti Vista Casino – Lakeport
- Lucky 7 Casino – Smith River
- Lucky Bear Casino – Hoopa
- Mono Wind Casino – Auberry
- Morongo Casino Resort & Spa – Cabazon
- Pala Casino Spa Resort – Pala
- Pechanga Resort & Casino – Temecula
- Pit River Casino – Burney
- Quechan Casino Resort – Winterhaven
- Rain Rock Casino – Yreka
- Red Earth Casino – Salton
- Red Fox Casino – Laytonville
- Red Hawk Casino – Placerville
- Redwood Hotel and Casino –Klamath
- River Rock Casino – Geyserville
- Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino – Nice
- Rolling Hills Casino – Corning
- Running Creek Casino – Upper Lake
- San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino – Highland
- Sherwood Valley Rancheria Casino – Willits
- Soboba Casino – San Jacinto
- Spotlight 29 Casino – Coachella
- Sycuan Casino & Resort -El Cajon
- Table Mountain Casino – Riverside
- Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino – Lemoore
- Thunder Valley Casino Resort – Lincoln
- Tortoise Rock Casino – Twentynine Palms
- Twin Pine Casino & Hotel – Middletown
- Valley View Casino & Hotel – Valley Center
- Viejas Casino and Resort Viejas
- Wanaaha Casino – Bishop
- Win-River Casino – Redding
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