In legal terms, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is not strictly legal in California. However, there is no law to really make it illegal, either. The California Assembly passed a bill seeking to legalize, regulate, and tax DFS but it was rejected by the Senate and since then the industry has remained a gray area. In practice, players can play DFS safely without any concerns. Both FanDuel and DraftKing accept players from the state. Indeed, the brand argues that DFS is a skill-based game and as such does not break any gambling laws.
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California is the self-declared Golden State but when it comes gambling, the sun hasn't always shone so brightly. Gambling in California can be confusing because, for a long time, some games and forms of betting have been completely legal, while others remain technically illegal. Then there's the confusion about land-based and online gambling in California.
Player versus player card games such as poker have been legal for a long time in the state and there are around 100 licensed cardrooms. In practice, this means that Native American casinos, card clubs, charitable gaming and the state lottery are legal when it comes to land-based gambling. Wagering on horse racing is also legal at licensed racetracks and satellite vendors—most notably at Cal Expo, Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, Los Alamitos and Santa Anita. Sports betting offline remains illegal, but pressure is growing for that to change.
In reality, California is one of the best states to live in for gamblers, with the combination of cardrooms, Native American casinos and horse race wagering - plus its proximity to Nevada and the magic of Las Vegas. However, this relative freedom hasn't always come smoothly — California’s gambling timeline reads like a rocky trail through the Sierra Nevada, stretching from the gold rush to the modern day:
Casino gaming offline remains strictly regulated in California, with card clubs that charge players a set fee to play against each other being the most viable way to gamble (usually on games like poker and pai gow). You can also gamble in Native American licensed casinos which offer a range of poker, blackjack, bingo and slots; play charitable bingo, or try your luck on the California Lottery with games such as Mega Millions and Superlotto plus.
However, there are no laws permitting online casino gambling in California. While neighboring Nevada is a pioneer of online gaming, California has resisted and state residents are unlikely to be able to place an online casino bet anytime soon. A recent push by some of the state's Native American tribes to open online gaming sites of their own was shot down in the courts, cutting off another potential lifeline for internet gaming.
Despite the access to brick-and-mortar poker rooms, online poker is not available. Nevada pioneered the modern online poker renaissance and is a viable option for many Californians. But it still requires a journey across the state line for the foreseeable future.
Horse racing aside, sports betting offline in California remains illegal—something that is unlikely to change later in 2018, even following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the federal ban on sports gambling gave U.S. states the power to legalize it. There is some push from lawmakers and outside interest groups to legalize sports betting in the next couple years, but that effort will likely take a while - if it passes at all. As of 2018, there's no major rush for lawmakers to take up sports betting legalization.