California Legal Poker Sites

California StateMost States started out banning all forms of gambling, and then added carve-outs for individual games over the years. California has done things their own way – here gambling has been part of the State culture since the very beginning. Nowadays, things are progressing at a rapid rate, with bills to regulate online poker already under debate. At the time of writing no bill has made it as far as the Senate floor, though discussions continue on this topic.

Recommended California Poker Site

RankPoker SiteUSABonusBonus CodePlay Now
#1Ignition Poker Review$1100N/AVisit Ignition Poker

This article gives you a full overview of poker in California, covering all aspects of playing the game. First of all, live poker games are covered at casinos and poker card rooms around the State. After that you will find a focus on social poker, which includes home-games, bars and charity gaming. Next online poker is covered, both present and future. At the bottom of this page you will find information direct from the CA Statute books, followed by a summary of the main factors affecting poker here.

Live Real Money Poker Games In California

Residents of California have one of the best selections of card rooms anywhere. There are a lot of so called ‘California Casinos’ here, which offer non-banked games including poker. The biggest and most famous of these is the giant Commerce Casino, where you will find some of the biggest and best poker tournaments anywhere – alongside a massive selection of cash games. In addition to 38 card rooms with non-banked games, there are a large number of casinos on native lands in California. Plenty enough action is available to prevent the need to hop over to neighboring Nevada to enjoy the excesses of the Las Vegas strip.

Social Poker And Home Games In California?

You can legally play social poker home games in California, with the strict stipulation that nobody is making a profit from running the game. This includes charging an entry fee to the premises as well as either tournament entry fees or rake from cash game pots.

As in other States, bars take full advantage of the social poker games carve-out, by offering free to enter poker league nights. There are (small) prizes for the winners of these games. The bars themselves make the money back from the extra sales of food and drink on poker nights. There are also charity poker events, which are individually licensed in advance by the State charity gambling office.

Online Poker Games In California

Online gambling, including poker, is assumed to be illegal under the current California Statutes. There are some positive signs that this State might be one of the next to regulate online poker, either within its own borders or in conjunction with other States. With a huge population, this is one of the few States which would be able to support a thriving poker ecosystem of its own.

In addition to bills regularly hitting committee, there are positive signs from elsewhere here – including using the internet for horse racing betting.

As things stand, the only real money poker sites which can be accessed by California residents are based offshore. These online poker rooms are legal in their own countries (usually in the Caribbean) and welcome US players. While nobody has ever been prosecuted for playing online poker in CA, you should be aware that this believed to be against the law.

What Do The California Gambling Statutes Say?

The gambling laws in California go into a lot of detail compared with other States. This covers the kind of gambling devices which are banned as well as bans on promoting a gambling game. The main liberalization of the law happened in 1993. There is currently a moratorium in place on new casinos being built until 2020.

California’s core definition of illegal gambling centers on a list of banned games. Instead of just naming every game, they broadened this out to include anything with cards, dice or a ‘gambling device’, making it very difficult to argue that poker games are not covered by this definition.

Here is the wording from the CA Statute books – defining illegal gambling games (from section 330)

… banking or percentage game played with cards, dice, or any device, for money, checks, credit, or other representative of value…

California Poker – Summing It Up

Poker fans are well looked after in California, enjoying the freedom to play in some of the biggest and best card rooms in the country. In addition to the casino poker rooms, home games and bar leagues are popular here.

Things are looking very positive for the eventual regulation of online poker games in CA. There are several competing factions who would like to ensure that their needs are met, including the government, commercial casino groups and native tribes. As long as the parties are willing to negotiate, the size of the California population is big enough to ensure a thriving poker economy once legal sites are launched.