Unfortunately, most CA gambling laws and regulations haven’t been updated since 1873 and target very specific forms of gambling. As a result, California deems a small number of gambling venues and casino games legal.
On top of that, the state doesn’t regulate online gambling at all. That leads us to a limited number of places where the Golden State’s residents can play both land-based and online poker in California.
Keep reading to learn more on this topic.
Is Online Poker Legal in California?
To answer this question, we’ll have to discuss two concepts — the legality of poker and the legality of online gambling in California. We’ll do that by covering the California gambling regulations in more detail below.
California’s Penal Code 330 PC, initially introduced in 1873, prohibits that its residents carry, deal, or play any house-banked and percentage games.
These games are known as Class III or Nevada-style games. In addition, the same regulation outlaws 11 casino games by name.
Poker is not one of the 11 games California bans explicitly, but it is considered a Class III game. So, Californians cannot bet real money in a game of poker anywhere in CA’s land-based gambling venues, with one exception — tribal casinos.
Tribal casinos are regulated by the CA’s Indian Gambling Regulatory Act issued in 1988. This act’s established an individual regulatory body in charge of all gaming occurring on Indian land. So, tribal casinos allow Californias to play regular real money poker on their premises. However, they have to adhere to the law that stipulates the legal age for poker in California, that is, be at least 18 years old to play.
As we’ve already mentioned, online gambling is not regulated in California. So, you won’t find any online casinos licensed in this state to play real money poker either. However, Californians can play poker using digital coins in sweepstakes and social casinos in this state.
Below you’ll find a list of the laws we’ve referenced. Make sure you’re familiar with all of them before you play poker in California.
Best Legal Poker Rooms in California
It might seem that the above-discussed laws leave Californians little to no choice for playing poker in the state. Yet, that’s not entirely true. Poker aficionados have found a way to go around the CA gambling restrictions and still enjoy pursuing this universally popular hobby. The following paragraphs discuss how you can play both online and land-based real money poker in Califonia.
Legal Online Poker in California
While California doesn’t regulate or license any real money online gambling platforms at the state level, its residents can still play poker in a few gambling sites.
CA’s online sweepstakes and social casinos offer poker games to players who prefer to gamble from the comfort of their homes. However, these games cannot be played with real money since the state prohibits house-banked and percentage games. They are played with digital coins instead.
There are also tons of reputable online casinos, licensed offshore, with great poker rooms that host various real money games. You can play in any of these types of casinos since California doesn’t have any laws that directly prohibit its residents from joining them.
We recommend you take your pick from the list of reputable offshore online poker rooms from the top of this page. These sites cater to Californians and host the best poker variants powered by industry-leading software providers.
My list of the best US poker sites which I consider to be the best rooms to play in 2023:
- BetOnline Poker
- Ignition Poker
- Everygame Poker
- Juicy Stakes Poker
- ACR Poker
- Bovada Poker
- BlackChip Poker
- SportsBetting Poker
100% Legal & Licensed Verified Bonus Mobile Friendly Advertiser Disclosure. Must be +18 to participate.
Legal Land-Based Poker in California
California’s law, which prohibits house-banked and percentage games, by definition, prohibits poker. Nevertheless, many CA land-based card rooms still offer poker games. These gambling venues don’t collect a percentage rake from the bets the players make since that would make the games house-banked. Instead, they charge a fixed fee for playing or collect tier-based rake.
The state has a significant number of such CA licensed card rooms. You can play poker in any of them as long as you obey CA’s laws regarding the legal age for gambling in card rooms. They require that players are at least 21 years old to play in these gambling venues in California legally.
How to Register at a Legal Online Poker Site in California
If the idea of playing in an offshore online poker room excites you, you’ll be happy to know that you can do that quickly. Simply follow our step-by-step guide below, and enjoy the best real money online poker in no time.
Choose A Poker Room
Choose the poker room you like the most from our table at the beginning of the article.
Open its official website and select the Join button.
Fill in the necessary information like your birth date, address, email, user name, and password.
Confirm your account request and wait for a verification email from the poker room.
Use the verification code from this email to confirm your email address and log into your account.
Deposit & Play
Make a deposit and choose the poker variant you’d like to play.
Land-based Casinos With Live Poker
Besides the mentioned card rooms, Californians can play different poker variants in 76 Indian casinos in the state. These gambling venues host various poker games, employ friendly dealers, and promise a great overall gaming experience.
If you’re a fan of standard real money land-based poker, you can visit any of these Indian casinos in the Golden State. We’ve compiled a list of the ones that have the best poker rooms in the state below:
- Thunder Valley Casino Resort — 1200 Athens Drive, Lincoln, CA 95648
- Cache Creek Resort — 14455 Highway 16, Brooks, CA 95606
- Harrah’s Resort Southern California — 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Funner, CA 92082
- Pechanga Resort Casino — 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, CA 92592
- Viejas Casino and Resort — 5000 Willows Rd, Alpine, CA 91901
Even though California has strict gambling regulations and prohibits many casino games by name, its residents still play poker in the state. California licenses numerous land-based card rooms and tribal casinos that offer poker games.
You can count on tribal casinos that host traditional real money poker and card rooms where players bet against other players rather than the house. Californians can also play real money online poker if they join CA’s sweepstakes, social casinos, or offshore poker rooms that cater to US players. All in all, the options are plenty.