Are you looking to gamble in California in a land-based casino or online? We’ll explain all the options available to you right here. You may want to visit one of the largest California casinos in northern or southern CA, relax at a resort that also happens to offer gambling, or you can simply go online to gamble right now.
We’ll tell you what the options in California are, what the gambling laws are, do you have to pay tax on winnings, and are you legally allowed to gamble online.
All California casinos and cardrooms are, as you surely already know, owned by the Indian tribes. It just so happens that the casinos in California are some of the largest in the country, and are also regularly undergoing renovations and expansions.
However, if you want to play craps or roulette, you won’t be able to do so in California as the laws prohibit use of dice and wheels to determine outcomes of gambling games. That means if you want to play roulette or craps, you will only be able to do so at online casinos.
The key things you’ll find on this page include:
Gambling in the state of California has largely been taken over by the Indian tribes, which means it is now them who control the legislation. There are almost 100 tribal casinos in the state, as well as many cardrooms, while the online gambling scene remains completely unregulated.
Technically, brick-and-mortar casinos have yet to be legalized in the state of California, but the tribes are independent and their land is autonomous from state authority.
Either way, you have two choices if you want to gamble in California. One is to pay a visit to a tribal land-based casino in your vicinity, and the other is to go online and visit one of our recommended offshore casinos that offer amazing deals.
Or, visit the land-based casinos when you get a chance, and on other days, when it’s more convenient, go online and gamble some more with the help of the exclusive bonuses that we bring you if you follow our links.
There are so many land based tribal casinos in California, too many to list one by one. So we will instead try to mention the largest casinos as well as those that cater to the most densely populated areas of California.
The majority of southern California casinos are huge, and the vast majority of them have hotels. In northern California, things are a bit quieter, with smaller casinos that are located further away from population centers.
Yamaava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel
Yaamava’ Casino is located in southern California, east of Los Angeles. It is by far the largest casino in the state, and it has over 6,500 slots as well as tons of table games and poker tables. The venue underwent a $500m expansion that added 750,000 sqft of total space, and that made it this former bingo hall the largest casino in California.
Address: 777 San Manuel Blvd S, Highland, CA 92346
Gaming space: 290,000 sqft
Games: 6,500 slots, 135 table games, 38 poker tables
Hotel rooms: 429
Amenities: Five restaurants, four bars, 3,000-seat event center
If Yammava’ is the largest, then Pechanga is the most luxurious casino in the state. It doesn’t have as much gaming space as Yammava’ but it more than makes up for it with the overall luxury, most of which has something to do with the 1,090-room hotel with 13 pools and a 25,000 sqft health spa. The property underwent a $285m expansion in 2018.
Address: 45000 Pechanga Pkwy, Temecula, CA 92592
Gaming space: 188,000 sqft
Games: 5,000 slots, 158 table games, 38 poker tables
Hotel rooms: 1,090
Amenities: Top-20 golf course, 11 restaurants, three bars, 25,000 sqft health spa, 13 pools
Just outside Sacramento and San Francisco you’ll find probably the best casino resort in northern California, the Cache Creek Casino Resort. This is a huge facility that used to be a bingo hall in the mid-1980s but has since grown into a 400,000 sqft luxurious gambling venue. This isn’t among the largest casinos by gaming space, but the entire experience is impressive.
Address: 14455 CA-16, Brooks, CA 95606
Gaming space: 94,000 sqft
Games: 2,200 slots, 120 table games
Hotel rooms: 600
Amenities: World-class nightlife, ten restaurants, pool, all-you-can-eat buffet
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Located just outside Sacramento, the Thunder Valley Casino Resort is the largest casino – by gaming space – in northern California. It isn’t as close to San Francisco and San Jose like Cache Creek, though, and it doesn’t seem to be as luxurious. It’s a great option if you’re in or near Sacramento.
Address: 1200 Athens Ave, Lincoln, CA 95648
Gaming space: 250,000 sqft
Games: 3,400 slots, 100 table games, 50-seat poker room
Hotel rooms: 300
Amenities: Spa, dining, bars, live entertainment
Casino M8trix San Jose
One of the main gambling destinations in northern California is the M8trix Casino in San Jose that is actually a cardroom so you won’t find any real money slots here. It’s a top-notch 24/7 entertainment venue regardless.
There are numerous hotels with casinos, or casinos with hotels, in California. You will find the largest ones listed above. Here we’ll mention two luxurious that are primarily interesting as hotels, with gambling added on top.
This is a 4-star hotel with a huge pool area outside, so the facility itself is impressive. This will especially be the case if you go for one of the deluxe rooms and therefore treat yourself to the best Pala Casino Spa Resort has to offer. The casino itself isn’t too large by California standards, but it’s more than good enough, with over 2,000 slots and almost 100 table games.
Address: 11154 CA-76, Pala, CA 92059
Gaming space: 86,000 sqft
Games: 2,250 slots, 84 table games
Hotel rooms: 500 rooms, 82 suites
Amenities: Restaurants, bars, indoor & outdoor concerts, pool, 11,000 sqft day spa
Harrah’s Resort Southern California
Harrah’s is obviously a casino, but it is primarily a resort; a place to go to relax, and gambling is just a part of what’s on offer. Located in Rincon reservation north of San Diego, it’s the perfect spot where you can kick back and have fun.
Address: 777 S Resort Dr, Valley Center, CA 92082
Gaming space: 188,000 sqft
Games: 5,000 slots, 158 table games, 38 poker tables
Hotel rooms: 1,087 luxurious rooms and suites
Amenities: Dining, entertainment, activities
Since the state of California doesn’t regulate online gambling, there are no local operators that are able to get a license.
And that means that you are free to gamble online at any offshore casino that will accept you as a customer.
You’ll find the best online casinos for California players on this page. You are free to gamble online at any of the casinos presented here, and you can claim the bonuses, make deposits and withdrawals, and gamble without any fear of prosecution.
While commercial casino-style gambling is prohibited in the state of California, federally recognized Indian tribes can operate casinos under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, that was made possible when Southern California’s Cabazon tribe prevailed in a 1987 US Supreme Court decision. Gambling on Native American lands within California was legalized following a constitutional amendment, Proposition 1A, which was passed by popular vote in 2000. After that, each tribe negotiated its own compact with the state of California.
There are 109 federally recognized tribes in California, with over 80 more seeking recognition. Of the 76 compacted tribes, 64 operate 67 casinos throughout the state, hauling in over $8bn in revenue per year. Around two thirds of tribal casinos are located in the northern part of the state.
Tribal casinos are allowed to offer slots and table games such as blackjack. State gaming compacts prohibit the use of dice and wheels, so games like craps or roulette aren’t allowed!
California also has over 70 card rooms. These establishments usually only offer players to play against each other, and don’t look like traditional casinos at all. In most cases, the dealer of the game, employed by the card room, will collect a rake. Blackjack and other table games won’t be found here.
Sports betting remains illegal in California, but there is an ongoing legal battle where the tribes want to include sports betting in their tribal casinos and have it remain illegal elsewhere.
Daily fantasy sports also remains illegal. Bingo and parimutuel wagering on horse races are permitted.
Online gambling and therefore US online slots for real money is not regulated in the state of California, so there is no licensing regime for online gambling and no licenses can be issued. Meaning, there is no way for an operator to be present in California legally.
There were unsuccessful attempts to legalize online poker. In 2016, Assembly Bill 263 attempted to legalize it, and made progress, but met stern opposition from the horse racing industry and from the tribes.
Nothing in California will happen unless the tribes – now wealthy enough to hire all the top talent lawyers – are also on board. Gambling in California is firmly under control of the Indian tribes and it’s unlikely this will change any time soon.
We carefully selected the reputable and reliable USA online casinos that accept California players, and we are also offering you the best exclusive bonuses and no deposit bonuses. You won’t find better deals for California anywhere else. Just make sure you use our links to sign up.
The legal gambling age in California is 18. However, many tribal casinos opted for an easy option of raising the entry age to 21, since that’s the legal drinking age. That makes everything easier for the casino as there’s only one check at the door that needs to be made, as opposed to monitoring each person to see if they’re drinking or gambling, or both, and how old they are.
That being said, you can probably find a tribal casino that will let you gamble at age 18, but you won’t be able to drink.
Yes – any money won on gambling in California is taxable by the IRS. Gambling winnings include cash prizes and the fair market value of prizes such as cars, electronics etc. All gambling income is subject to California state tax, except for lottery winnings.
Gambling losses can be deducted from payable tax in some cases.
There are almost 70 casinos and just as many cardrooms in California that often have ‘casino’ in their name but don’t feature slot machines.
Yammava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel is the largest casino in California, with 290,000 square feet of gaming space, whopping 6,500 slots and lots of table games and poker seats as well.
This is because commercial casinos are actually illegal in the state of California, but the Indian tribes are autonomous so they can have casinos on their lands. So, all the casinos within the borders of California will be on tribal lands.
The Indian tribes in California are concerned with their brick-and-mortar casinos while the rest of the gambling landscape is unregulated. This includes online gambling. You’re free to sign up with any offshore casino that will take you as a player.
There is currently no legal way for a gambling operator in California to apply for any kind of online gambling license. But that’s not to say you can’t gamble online until this is fixed. You certainly can, by visiting one of the offshore casinos. Illegal gambling is a misdemeanor with a fine of $100 to $1,000.