California has a history of gambling that goes all the way back to the Gold Rush of the 1840s. And such gaming still exists in the state today, with horse racing, tribal casinos, poker rooms and lottery games remaining popular.

Card rooms have been around since those Gold Rush days, which offer player against players games, including poker and blackjack, as well as pai-gow poker. While the amount of these rooms has diminsihed extensively since those years, California is still host to 38, with the biggest being the Commerce Casino, home to some of the best and most prestigious poker tournaments in the world.

It wouldn't be until 1933 that horse racing became a legal game, another sector that has remained successful, with the state playing host to six huge tracks and a number of off-track betting opportunities. The year of 2010 would see internet wagering on horse racing become legal as well, a significant triumph and boost for the industry.

California's own lottery, which became legal in 1984, is a huge game, offering 10 different draws as well as a strong range of scratch cards. Because of the size of the state California’s lottery has become one of the most popular lotteries with the biggest jackpots available across the whole United States. Meanwhile, tribal casinos were developed in 2001, generating revenue for both the state coffers and their own tribes. As it stands at the moment though, there will be no new casinos built in the state until at least 2020.

While it's great that California is fairly liberal in the selection of gaming opportunities that it offers to its citizens, there are a couple of sectors that aren't as free and easy.

To begin with, there aren't any regulated online casinos in California. There has been speculation that it could be included in a bill that regulates poker, although there are also strong concerns that online casinos would decrease attendance at land-based establishments. Therefore, it is increasingly difficult to legalise such.

While online casinos don't appear to be making any headway in either direction, online poker is a slightly different bag. There still aren't any regulated poker sites in the state, although there have been various bills introduced over the last few years to bring forward legislation. However, the California State and Tribal views are in an almost constant state of argument.

California's gambling license

The Gambling Control Act of California requires an owner of a gambling organisation to apply for and obtain a state gambling license. All applicants must undergo a thorough background check, completed by Bureau Licensing employees, This will determine whether or not they are suitable to hold such a license. Suitability of an applicant is determined by, but not solely based upon, the following criteria:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • General character
  • Reputation
  • Habits
  • Financial History
  • Criminal History

The applications for obtaining a gambling license can be found via the California Department of Justice website, or from the California Gambling Control Commission.


  • The California Gambling Control Commission
  • 2399 Gateway Oaks Drive # 220
  • Sacramento
  • CA 95833
  • United States