Despite having some of the best and most popular sports teams in the entire United States, we are still yet to see a legalization of California sports betting. This does seem like it is a bit of an odd choice for the Golden State, especially as they have a population of nearly 40 million residents and just as many tourists flooding to major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Table of Contents
With such a good foundation and following of sports here, it should hopefully not be too long before we see some form of legal sports betting available here. Many ballots have already attempted to make their way to a vote. Both Californians and betting operators have expressed an interest in setting up legal sports betting here.
Though nothing is legal just yet, it might not be too long before we see some form of legal California sports betting make it past voters and into state legislation.
Best California Sports Betting Sites
Given the lack of legal California sports betting sites, our experts have compiled a list of recommended offshore sportsbook sites if you are a California resident.
As a cryptocurrency-only sportsbook, Cloudbet is a one-of-a-kind establishment in that it only accepts cryptocurrency deposits and withdrawals. Therefore, their offshore betting platform, which includes a Bitcoin sportsbook, will appeal to many seasoned sports bettors who are looking for a new experience.
Bovada is one of the most popular offshore sportsbooks among sports bettors in the United States, and they are based in Costa Rica. At the Bovada sportsbook, there is an excellent range of sports to bet on, and this is one of the many reasons they have grown to be such a popular sportsbook in the United States.
For sports bettors in the United States, BetOnline is one of the most reputable offshore sportsbooks to choose from. BetOnline, created in 2001, is one of the most popular options for sports bettors in the United States. They provide online services for casino players, poker, and sports, with the latter being the one we will be focusing on.
MyBookie is one of a handful of offshore betting sites available to US bettors, and they can provide customers with a more dynamic sports betting experience.
BUSR is one of the most well-known sportsbooks in the United States. Its odds have been published on several essential news publications, including ESPN, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated.
Stake.com, which launched in 2017, is an offshore sportsbook that accepts bets from sports bettors in the United States of America. They are one of a kind in that they only accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method. The cryptocurrency gambling site now has a large number of sports betting markets and alternatives available to anyone that sign up for an account.
XBet asserts that they are the last online sportsbook you will ever sign up with. They are one of a slew of offshore sportsbooks that are available to players in the United States, with the brand being situated in the Central American country of Costa Rica.
Legal Online California Sports Betting
You cannot legally find California betting sites either through sportsbooks in the state or online at specific sites. Some horse racing betting is allowed, and you can enjoy daily fantasy sports. This is the only option available for placing a sports bet unless they are willing to cross state borders to somewhere like Las Vegas or they wish to try offshore sports betting.
The eastern states of the USA enthusiastically accepted sports betting when the option became open to them. Hence, it is interesting to see how slow the western states like California have been when it has come to launching this activity. There have been plans to introduce sports betting for years. One can expect that, as soon as they can do so, many of the major sports betting operators active within California will launch their odds and online sports betting portals as quickly as they can.
How To Pick An California Sports Betting Site
There are few ways to place bets on sports online in the Golden State legally. California sports betting is limited to horse race betting and fantasy sports. So finding the best sports betting site can prove difficult for California residents.
Two of the major daily fantasy sports players are FanDuel and DraftKings. They also own and operate retail and online sportsbooks across many other states. Feasibly, we could see sports betting from them once the regulation is in place to allow them to do so. The two brands that offer horse racing betting only offer this sport and not others. For this reason, it is unlikely that we will see them move into the sports betting market if it is made legal in California.
Many other major brands like BetMGM and WynnBet have expressed an interest in opening up California sports betting. This should provide a varied and exciting marketplace for bettors to explore. Should online sports betting launch in the Golden State, we predict it will take several forms. As in other states, the minimum betting age is 21. Bettors will also have to be physically present within the state to make their bets.
One big question will be whether bettors will be able to sign up for their chosen apps online or have to visit a retail sportsbook to complete their registration. The latter is something present in Nevada, where there is also a high volume of visitors potentially looking to check out legal sports betting while they are there. If California is concerned about these fly-by wagerers, they might also decide to implement a requirement that sports betting apps need in-person registration to be used.
History / Timeline of Sports Betting in California
Legal California sports betting has mostly taken place in tribal casinos or racetracks. Though the Golden State has a long and varied history, sports betting and wagering, in general, have not been significant players here.
One obstacle that stopped sports betting from flourishing both in this state and many others around the USA was the introduction of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, in 1992. This prohibited the launch of sports gambling in states except for Nevada – which already had it well-established – and three others with sports lotteries. However, PASPA was eventually deemed unconstitutional in 2018, and this caused many states to reassess their position and launch their online gambling in some way.
Several ballots have been introduced over the years but have failed to progress. Finally, come to the 2022 November election, we could see a sports betting question making its way onto the ballot paper. There have so far been three proposals on how this legalization should come about. Any gambling bill in California requires a supermajority with two-thirds voting in favor of the bill to be made into law.
The first proposals have already secured a spot on the November ballot. It would allow sports betting at the tribal casinos within California legally but would not permit online sports betting. This would maintain the monopoly the casinos currently hold over Californian betting and put the introduction of mobile sports betting in the hands of the tribe.
The second proposal has been named the California Solutions to Homelessness, and Mental Health Support Act, as 85% of the tax proceeds from sports betting revenue would tackle the state’s homelessness problem. This bill aims to create online-only California sports betting market that would be open to operators and the tribes. It is backed by a coalition of seven of the biggest sportsbook operators in the American market. If chosen, horse tracks and sports franchises would not be permitted to take bets. The licensing for this proposal is extremely expensive, with an initial fee of $100 million and then a $10 million renewal fee every five years, with this dropping to $10 million for licensing and $1 million for a renewal fee for the tribes.
California’s card rooms have suggested the third option. However, it is the most exclusive of the deals on the table, allowing online and retail sports betting at tribal casinos, sports venues, and more. For this reason, it is unpopular with the tribes and might not make it to the final vote.
California Sports Teams
California is home to some of the most well-known sports franchises in the USA. Sports, in general, have a strong presence in California, and this is even the only state in the USA to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics. In addition, games were hosted across the state during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and the same is due to happen with the jointly hosted 2026 World Cup.
However, it is the sports teams of California that we need to turn the majority of our attention towards. The Golden State is home to three NFL teams – the Los Angeles Rams, the Los Angeles Chargers, and the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams are the current Champions of the NFL, and both teams have made multiple appearances in the playoffs over the years. All three are well-celebrated, and the stadiums they play in are frequently used for many other sporting and entertainment events.
Several Major League Baseball teams are located throughout the state – the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels, the San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, and the San Diego Padres. They are, of course, also supported by several minor league baseball teams.
The NBA in California is always watched closely. The teams here are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Gold State Warriors, and the Sacramento Kings. There is also a WNBA team in LA – the Los Angeles Sparks. In particular, the Lakers are one of the most famous teams not just in California but in the sport of basketball as a whole. Many of the best players in the sport’s history, like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James, have all played for this team.
Though California might be one of the warmer states in the USA, there are still three NHL teams hitting the ice here. The Anaheim Ducks, the Los Angeles Kings, and the San Jose Sharks. The state also has a good presence in Major League Soccer, undoubtedly helped by their host duties of the 1994 World Cup. Again, three teams are here – the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Los Angeles Football Club, and the San Jose Sharks.
With California sports betting discussions underway, one of the questions that will inevitably be raised is whether or not collegiate betting will be permitted once sports betting is legal. The Golden State is home to many fine colleges, including the University of California public research university system. Many of the colleges throughout the state, whether they are public or private, compete in the highest divisions of the competitive collegiate competitions. It will be down to legislators to decide whether or not these forms of betting will be permitted, but there is no denying that they could be missing out on a potentially massive source of revenue otherwise.
Retail Sports Betting in California
There are no options for those who wish to bet in California at a retail location. Will we ever see retail sportsbooks open? That ultimately depends on which bills go through and whether it is voted through to law.
The tribes’ preferred bill is the one that creates a market that they control. Retail sportsbooks would be permitted to open, but only on tribal property. This means that the sports franchises of California would not be able to open their sportsbooks.
The second option creates a mobile-only betting market, which means no retail sportsbooks. Though a mobile sports betting market is important for driving revenue, it is vital to remember that the best markets have a mix of both retail and mobile sports betting. Therefore, mobile sports betting is essential, but retail sportsbooks’ role should also not be minimalized.
The tribal casinos in California hold the monopoly for sports betting, and one of the biggest tribal markets in the USA can be found here. There are 76 casinos in operation amongst 62 tribes, with all of these offering fully authorized casino games through the compacts that they have negotiated with the state.
Since there is such a large tribal gaming presence here, it will be impossible to launch California sports betting without their support somehow. The proposal that they have put forward to limit retail sportsbooks to just tribal lands might seem restrictive, but with 76 potential locations, it isn’t as limited as one might imagine. Should this be the proposal that comes into law, we might even see many of the biggest operators forming partnerships with the tribes to launch their products via the tribal casinos.
Daily Fantasy Sports
California does not technically consider daily fantasy sports gambling illegal, so there is no legislation prohibiting these games. At the same time, there is also no legislation legalizing these types of games, though we might see some in the future.
The Attorney General of California has never opted to place restrictions that would prevent players from entering fantasy contests. This means that many significant operators such as DraftKings and FanDuels have been able to freely offer contests. Should retail and online sports betting be launched in the US, these are two of the operators who might move quickly to set up operations.
Offshore Sports Betting
Offshore sports betting can be found in California. At the moment, Californians have to hop the state border to Nevada if they wish to enjoy legal mobile sports betting, and this is not the most convenient of options. The other way to bet on sports in the Golden State is to use offshore sportsbook sites to place wagers.
The sites that always need to be avoided are those that are not regulated. These are operating illegally and do not represent good options for bettors. Instead, the best thing to do is look for sites regulated by companies in places like Curaçao and Costa Rica. Such sites carry international licenses and are subject to regulations, making them safe options for offshore betting.
California Horse Racing & Off-Track Betting
There are several horse racing tracks throughout the state of California. These include the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the Santa Anita Park, amongst others. Pari-mutuel wagers are permitted at licensed racetracks, meaning bettors in the Golden State can place bets on horse races if they visit these locations. You must be aged 18+ to be able to do so.
In addition to this, there are several off-track betting locations throughout the state. Some of these are even in the tribal casinos. These offer simulcast broadcasting so bettors can tune into the latest games and place wagers as they happen.
There is also limited betting available online. Some apps and online sites offer horse betting opportunities alone. Even if California sports betting is introduced, there is no guarantee that these brands will expand beyond horse racing to provide more general sports betting wagers.
Final Thoughts / Summary
California sports betting is inevitable; it is just a question of when it will launch. When it does, it has the potential to be the biggest in the United States. This is one of the most populous states, and it has some of the best and most-loved sports teams in the entire USA. Should sports betting get off the ground, it will quickly grow and expand. In terms of revenue, it could very easily surpass what we are currently seeing, even in states like Nevada and Pennsylvania, where sports betting is flourishing.
Much of the decisions here will come down to the tribes. Understandably, they want to have a say in how sports betting is launched since betting is a huge revenue source. Introducing mobile-only betting in California might not be the best option. Rolling out retail sportsbooks via the tribal casinos and then slowly building and launching affiliated apps might be the better of the options, and it means that no one will be left out of the expansion.
Of course, all of this also hinges on the voters of the Golden State. Those interested in the launch of sports betting in this state need to pay attention to some of the referendum questions in the November election. Though we might get more information about what licensing and taxation might look like by then, the proposal voters will receive is still yet to be completely finalized. Hopefully, they will opt for one of them and allow legal sports betting to come to California for the first time. Out of all the states that have not yet launched sports betting, this is one with the most potential!