Casinos in California

This beautiful Pacific state has an excellent variety of casinos, with plenty of options for locals and visitors alike. California only permits gambling on tribal lands or cruise ships, but the good news is there are nearly one hundred venues to choose from. However, card games such as poker are an exception to the rule. They are legal anywhere in California. As a result, you’ll find a huge choice of commercial card clubs and several horse tracks in the state. Online casinos and sports betting, however, are not legal in California.

Indian casinos and cruise ship resort casinos differ in tax payable to the state. The former is not liable for corporation tax, and the employees who work on the reserve are exempt from any income tax. On the other hand, Cruise ships must pay the basic rate of corporation and sales tax during each financial year.

Indian casinos continue to increase with every passing year, with the much talked about $500 million Sky River casino in Sacramento County projected to open in November 2022.

Are there casinos in California?

Yes! After Nevada and Oklahoma, the Golden State has the third-highest number of casinos in the US. California bettors and visitors can play at these casinos as long as they are of legal age.

What different types of casinos are there in California?

The state is home to a range of casinos, including land-based casinos, cruise ship casinos, card clubs, and horse tracks. Currently, 18 cruise ship casinos can be found in California. However, guests can only play at the casino once the ship is at sea. You will find 67 land-based casinos owned and operated by Native American tribes of California. It is also home to nearly 100 commercial card clubs, where players can legally enjoy poker and other card games. California also boasts seven racetracks, where visitors can make bets on both live and simulcast racing.

History of casinos in California

The southwest state has a long history of gambling. It was a major source of entertainment in the Old West. Gambling was popular from the very first gold rushes of the 19th century until state legislators sought to control it in the early 20th century. It may have been European settlers who bought gambling to the area, but the indigenous inhabitants helped create the current casino landscape in California. Following those in Nevada, several native groups opened casinos in the 1980s. After an initial legal battle, the state government conceded that casinos could rightfully operate on tribal or reservation land. These casinos helped drive state tourism, provided employment, and ensured financial independence for California’s Native American tribes.

The history of poker in the Golden State is different, however. Many types of poker slipped through the net and remained legal throughout the 20th century. While casinos can only operate on tribal lands, live poker is permitted anywhere in California.

Full list of Californian casinos

Tribal casinos:

  • Agua Caliente Palm Springs
  • Augustin Casino
  • Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage
  • Barona Casino
  • Bear River
  • Black Oak Casino
  • Blue Lake Casino Hotel
  • Cache Creek Casino Resort
  • Cahuilla Casino
  • Cher-Ae Heights
  • Casino Pauma
  • Chicken Ranch
  • Chumash Casino Resort
  • Colusa Casino
  • Coyote Valley Casino
  • Desert Rose
  • Diamond Mountain Casino, Hotel & Brewery
  • Eagle Mountain Casino
  • Elk Valley
  • Fantasy Springs Casinos
  • Feather Falls
  • Garcia River Casino
  • Gold Country Casino
  • Golden Acorn
  • Graton Casino Hotel
  • Harrah’s Casino Resort Southern California
  • Havasu Landing
  • Harrah’s Northern California
  • Hidden Oaks
  • Jackson Rancheria
  • Jamal Casino
  • Konocti Vitsa Casino Hotel
  • Lucky 7 Casino
  • La Jolla Trading Post
  • Lucky Bear
  • Morongo Casino and Hotel
  • Mono Wind
  • Pala Casino
  • Pachanga Casino
  • Pit River
  • Quechan Casino
  • Red Earth Casino
  • Rain Rock
  • Red Fox
  • Redwood Casino
  • Red Hawk
  • River Rock
  • Robinson Rancheria
  • Rolling Hills Casino
  • Running Creek Casino
  • San Pablo Lytton
  • Sherwood Valley
  • Soboba Casino
  • Spotlight 29
  • Sycuan Casino Resort
  • Table Mountain
  • Tachi Palace
  • Thunder Valley Casino
  • Twin Pine Casino
  • Tortoise Rock
  • Valley View Casino
  • Viejas Casino Hotel
  • Wanaaha Casino
  • Win-River Casino
  • Winnedumah Winns
  • Yaamava Resort Casino
  • Yokut Gas Casinos.

Cruise ship casinos:

  • Caribbean Princess
  • Coral Princess
  • Crystal Serenity
  • Crown Princess
  • Crystal Symphony Casino
  • Dawn Princess
  • Diamond Princess
  • Emerald Princess Santa Clarita
  • Golden Princess
  • Grand Princess
  • Island Princess
  • Pacific Princess
  • Regal Princess
  • Royal Princess
  • Ruby Princess
  • Sapphire Princess
  • Sea Princess
  • Star Princess

Besides native-owned and cruise ship casinos, there are also nearly 100 commercial card clubs across the state.

The best casinos in California

You’ll find California’s biggest and best casinos within large hotel resorts. One such is Yamaava Resort Casino (formerly San Manuel Casino), located east of LA in San Bernardino County. It is one of the largest casinos in the state, with 6500 slot games and 135 table games.

Another vast venue is the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula. It is home to 5000 slot machines and 158 table games, spread across an expansive casino floor of 188,000sqft (0.02 km²). Pechanga also features over 1000 hotel rooms, 11 restaurants, 13 pools, spa facilities, and a golf course.

The Morongo Casino Resort Hotel & Spa in Cabazon is another excellent choice, with a casino floor of 148,000sqft (0.01km²) and 4000 slot machines. This four-star resort boasts a golf course, spa, and bowling alley.

More top Californian resort casinos include the Thunder Valley, Cache Creek, Viejas, and Barona.

Online casino gaming is illegal in California. However, online pari-mutuel horse racing betting, fantasy sports betting, and sweepstakes casinos are legal.

Gambling laws in California

Despite being home to the third-highest number of casinos in the US, California has some strict gambling laws. You may not play at an online casino in California for a start. The only exceptions to this rule are pari-mutuel horse-race betting and fantasy sports betting.

The state’s land-based casinos are also subject to specific gambling laws. Dice games such as craps are not legal in California. However, some reservation casinos get around this by offering a type of crap game played with cards. Players cannot access live roulette, although virtual or video roulette is available in some reservation-based casinos.

Only players aged 21 and over can visit a casino or make a horse race bet in California. However, you only need to be 18 to buy a lottery ticket or play bingo.

Quick facts about gambling in California

  • Casino gambling in California is only legal in casinos on tribal or reservation lands and cruise ships.
  • However, poker and other card games are legal in card clubs, even if not on tribal lands.
  • There are over 150 places to enjoy wagered games in California. This includes 67 tribal-owned venues and cruise ship casinos, card clubs, and racetracks.
  • Live dice games are not legal in California but can be adapted with cards.
  • Only virtual roulette is legal in California.
  • Online casinos are not legal in California.
  • The state does not allow sports betting, either on or offline.

Taxation of gambling in California

All casino California winnings of $1- $5000 are subject to a federal tax of 24% but not liable for state tax. Wins of above this amount are subject to the same federal tax but may also be subject to state taxes at local authority rates.

The future of gambling in California

Sports betting will likely become legalized in California as state legislatures look to follow suit of other states. However, online casinos will probably remain illegal for longer, as they are a more significant threat to existing casinos.

Summary of casinos in California

The casinos California scene is interesting. With many tribal-owned casinos to choose from, it’s easy to find a great casino in California. Many top California casinos boast extensive hotel resort features and are great destinations. Online casino playing and sports betting remain illegal in California, but card players have the option to play live poker in commercial card clubs.