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Will California ever legalize online gambling?

The landscape of online gambling in California is at the forefront of discussions around the future of gambling in the Golden State. Despite two failed proposals and the continuing surge in popularity of legal daily fantasy sports contests, California’s betting landscape remains a complex and contentious issue.

This blog post aims to shed light on the current status, challenges, and potential future of online gambling in California.

The Present State of Online Gambling in California

The Current Situation of Online Gambling Legislation in California continues to be a challenging and remote target, possibly extending beyond 2024. Prior attempts to pass legislation have faltered, keeping online gambling as an unattainable activity within the state’s borders.

The difficulty in moving towards legalization lies in the multifaceted legal environment and the diverging interests of key stakeholders. Tribal casinos, poker rooms, and legislators in California have disparate priorities and goals, leading to a lack of unified support. Successful legalization would need the endorsement of a supermajority in the State Legislature, followed by the public’s approval through a referendum. Given the stagnant nature of past gambling laws, this pathway appears particularly challenging.

While these hurdles remain, there seems to be a more favorable attitude towards online sports betting than other online gambling forms. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to allow states to authorize sports betting has spotlighted the potential loss of tax revenue to nearby states that have embraced this opportunity.

With 65 Native American casinos and 86 licensed cardrooms across California, according to official state records, the varying interests of these establishments add layers of complexity to the situation.

However, the aspiration to bring online gambling into legal territory in California is far from abandoned. A determined group of lawmakers within the state continues to champion this cause.

These persevering legislators are not setting aside the potential for lawful online gambling in California. They remain committed to crafting laws, building alliances, and overcoming barriers that have impeded previous initiatives.

The opposition from local Native American tribes, apprehensive about losing their hold on the state’s gambling activities, has formed a considerable obstacle. Furthermore, various influential groups have joined forces against the legalization of online gambling, adding to the complex and challenging scenario.

Economic Potential

Legalizing gambling is not just a matter of law and personal freedom; it’s also a significant economic consideration. With its vast population and rich history of entertainment and gaming, California stands poised to become a major hub for legal online gambling, promising substantial economic benefits.

The Largest Online Gambling Market

California’s size and population make it a prime candidate for a thriving online gambling industry. With major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, along with a tech-savvy population, the demand for legal online gambling is expected to be high. If legalized, California could easily surpass other states in terms of both the number of players and revenue generated.

Legalizing online casinos in California could add tremendous revenue to the state’s economy. This revenue could be derived from taxes on gambling profits, operator licensing fees, and increased tourism associated with gaming conventions and events. The infusion of funds could be allocated to various public services such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and more.

A glance at New Jersey clearly shows what legal online gambling could mean for California’s economy. Since legalizing online gambling in 2013, New Jersey has quickly become one of the most lucrative markets in the U.S. In 2020 alone, the state reported over $970 million in online gaming revenue, generating tens of millions in tax revenue. New Jersey’s success has been attributed to a favorable regulatory environment, diverse gaming options, and robust marketing efforts.

If California were to follow a similar path, considering its larger population and vibrant entertainment culture, the economic gains could be even more substantial. The potential revenue from online gambling could contribute to the state’s budget, positively impacting various sectors of public life.

The Future of Online Gambling in California: Will California Ever Legalize Online Gambling?

The possibility of legalizing online gambling, including sports betting in California, appears to be on the horizon, with expectations that it could become a reality in the coming years. As lawmakers and stakeholders navigate the complexities, the potential for a diverse betting landscape is taking shape. Californians will be introduced to various betting styles when and if legalized.

Moreover, California’s rich sports culture has primed the state for an explosion of betting activity if sports betting ever becomes legal. California is unrivaled in its sporting variety and is home to many professional teams across the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and NCAA.

In the NFL, Californians have an affinity for teams like the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco 49ers.

NBA fans in the state can rally behind renowned teams such as the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Sacramento Kings.

California hosts eminent MLB teams for those passionate about baseball, including the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants.

Hockey enthusiasts aren’t left out either, with the NHL represented by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks.

In the collegiate world, California boasts the highest number of NCAA Division I teams, encompassing various sports and reflecting a deep-rooted love for amateur athletics.

Legalizing online gambling in California could unleash a vibrant betting culture leveraged by the state’s diverse and prominent sporting environment. The infrastructure is present, with legions of sports enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the opportunity to engage in legal betting on their favorite teams.


Whether California will ever legalize online gambling is multifaceted. The path to legalization is complex, with various stakeholders, failed proposals, and ongoing political battles. Yet, the continued efforts by lawmakers and the potential economic benefits keep the hope alive for a legal online gambling environment in California’s future.

Despite the present uncertainties, the landscape is rich in possibilities, intrigue, and opportunities for the state and sports enthusiasts. The years leading up to 2024 will likely see further developments and debates as the Golden State grapples with a decision that could transform its sports and gambling sectors. Meanwhile, options beyond state lines provide alternatives for those seeking legal betting today.