It’s considered the crown jewel of the U.S. legal sports betting landscape – but it might be a while yet before anyone is placing legal wagers in California.
The Golden State – with a population approaching 40 million – is understandably the focal point of just about everyone in the sports betting space. But bettors and operators will likely have to wait until at least 2023 – and even that is by no means a sure thing, with organizations at odds and many elected officials opposed to sports betting.
The sheer size of California will likely mean dozens of available sports betting licenses once the state does open up to legal wagering. And while there will be plenty of seats at the table, when Cali unlocks the door, you can be sure that every operator in the country will be looking for a piece of action.
When California does join the ever-growing list of states with legal sports betting, you can expect all the major players in the U.S. sports betting space to be in the mix, with FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars among them. And we’ll be there with our list of the top online sportsbooks to consider.
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21+. Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly
Caesars is proving to be one of the most aggressively expanding brands in sports betting. Unfortunately, like all major U.S. sportsbooks, they are quick to limit you if you go on a tear and their odds boost promos offer low maximum bet limits.
BetMGM is one of the top-rated sportsbooks in the U.S. offering some of the best live betting odds in the industry. They’re also the largest iGaming operator across the U.S.
FanDuel reigns supreme right now as the No. 1 betting site in America. And it has largely earned that spot on the strength of superior brand recognition, an easy-to-use product, an overwhelming number of markets for North America’s most popular sports, and representation in every state in which it is permitted to offer legal sports betting.
DraftKings had a solid reputation as the leading DFS provider in the country, so the shift to legal sports betting felt natural. They offer one of the most voluminous collections of ongoing promos and odds boosts in the industry as they cater to the beginner crowd. However, their reputation has dwindled as outspoken CEO Jason Robins leads the charge of the anti-profitable bettor mentality that runs rampant amongst sportsbooks that are quick to limit winning players.
bet365 is one of the largest and most popular sportsbooks globally. With a well-received mobile app, popular same-game parlays, and a wide variety of sports leagues to bet on it’s no wonder 80 million sports bettors worldwide continue to use bet365.
Online since: 2015
PointsBet’s innovative nature shows that they don’t want to just be another book you place typical bets. Unfortunately, they are quick to limit bettors on a hot streak and limit the number of promos you’re able to take advantage of, making it necessary for you to shop at other books regularly.
With a large variety of ongoing promos and contests featuring Barstool personalities, Barstool Sportsbook is a solid option available for casual bettors.
While this book won’t wow you with its design, you won’t find many apps easier to navigate – or with the sheer volume of sports markets Betway offers. And although you'll find more generous signup offers elsewhere, Betway remains a strong global sports betting brand that deserves to be mentioned among the second-tier sportsbook options in the U.S.
The addition of mobile sports betting in California will mean plenty of bonuses and offers for anyone making wagers within state lines. We encourage everyone to maximize their bonus and offer exposure, since many of these first-time inducements result in real cash landing in sports bettors’ accounts, with little playthrough required (for the most part).
|🚀 Launch Date||TBD|
|💰 # of Betting Sites||0|
|📱 Online Sports Betting||❌ No|
|🎰 Retail Sports Betting||❌ No|
|🖥️ Online Casino||❌ No|
|🃏 Retail Casino||✅ Yes|
|🏈 College Sports Betting||TBD|
|🌎 2022 Population (est.)||39.6 million|
|💸 Tax Rate||TBD|
Consult our top list above for the best sports betting options available to you in California. Our interactive list allows you to sort sportsbooks based on a number of criteria, including banking options, bonuses and quality of customer service.
If you’re looking for more information before making your choice, be sure to check out our detailed, unbiased reviews for each of the top sportsbooks in California. This is especially important if you want to understand how each book’s bonus offers work.
Registration requirements vary slightly by sportsbook, but most follow the same protocols. Be sure to have your personal information (name, address, phone number) and credit card details (number, expiry date, CVV) handy.
Once you’re comfortable with how your sportsbook’s new signup bonus works, it’s time to make your initial deposit and claim that sweet bonus. The majority of first-time offers for California residents come in one of two forms:
Congratulations! You’re ready to place a wager. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the app interface before diving in. Most mobile operators make it easy for new sports bettors to navigate, but it’s still a good idea to know where everything is.
From there, you can place any type of wager you like; the most popular bet types are the moneyline, spread or total. You can also dive into team or player props, or even kick things off with a futures bet.
Once you have the desired wager(s) in your betting card, take one last look to ensure you’ve made the selections you want. If everything is good, simply click the “Bet” button – and you’re off!
You wouldn’t know it by the fact that legal betting has eluded California lawmakers, but the state has been working on legislation since before the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018.
Gambling has long been a hot-button issue in California, so it’s no surprise that things have moved at a glacial pace over the past five years. And with bills coming in from every direction – some at odds with each other – coming to a tangible consensus might still be months or even years away.
Here’s a look at California’s sports betting history:
California Assemblyman Adam Gray was the first notable entrant into the sports betting fray introducing Constitutional Amendment ACA 18 that would allow for sports betting in the state. Unfortunately, nothing would come of it since PASPA was still very much in effect by year’s end.
Gray wasted zero time reintroducing ACA 18 shortly after PASPA was repealed, but it didn’t get anywhere.
Not long after, consultant Russell Lowery submitted a request with California’s attorney general to allow people to vote on whether to legalize sports betting in the state on the 2020 ballot. Labeled the “Gaming Fairness and Accountability Act”, it also failed to make any headway and eventually vanished.
This is where things started to get interesting.
Gray submitted his third proposal (ACA 16), which focused on getting two-thirds of the state legislature to approve it before it landed on the November 2020 ballot, where it would need the approval of the majority of voters. Senator Bill Dodd produced a matching Bill: SCA 6, the California Sports Wagering and Consumer Protection Act.
Meanwhile, nearly 20 Californian tribes came together on a petition to bring sports wagering into their lands. Their proposal, known as the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, would bypass the general assembly and go straight to the ballot.
Among the highlights of the tribal bill: no wagering on in-state collegiate teams and no mobile wagering, with sports betting limited to retail wagers at physical casinos.
The early part of 2020 saw California’s tribes score a huge victory, as they were given the opportunity to collect the one million signatures required to make the November ballot. But chaos quickly reigned thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented the tribes from being able to collect the signatures they needed.
As they sued the state for an extension, Dodd removed SCA 6 from consideration; that gave the tribes an even clearer path to victory. And thanks in part to a second extension given as a response to a second pandemic lockdown, the group gathered 1.4 million signatures by the deadline, ensuring a place on the November 2022 ballot.
A little healthy competition was on the way in 2021, courtesy a four-city collaboration and an unlikely partnership between three of sports betting’s heaviest hitters.
San Jose and three other cities filed an initiative in August that would allow for online sports betting in addition to retail betting – and it would open the market up to tribal casinos, racetracks, card rooms and pro sports arenas. A month after that, DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM filed an initiative (with the support of several other sportsbooks) that would require nearly 997,139 signatures – the same as the cities’ plan.
The sportsbook-backed initiative had some eye-opening provisions – including a $100 million initial licensing fee, and the requirement that commercial operators would need to be present in at least 10 other states with sports betting legislation in place.
The sportsbooks’ proposal clashed with that of the tribes, so the tribes responded with a fourth initiative in late October that would require that all bettors would need to register in person, even for mobile sportsbooks. It would also see the California government agree to a gaming expansion at in-state casinos.
Things became more confrontational in 2022, throwing the future of legal California sports wagering in doubt.
The state’s tribes were already dissatisfied by the proposal brought forth by the sports betting operators – and things only became worse in early May, when it was announced that the sportsbook committee had gathered 1.6 million signatures.
That prompted the state’s tribes to shift their focus from having their initiative passed to having the competing initiative axed. Two notable groups even offered to spend a combined $350 million to have the other initiative dissolved.
It will come as no surprise to see a rather extensive list of major professional and amateur sports available to California bettors when betting becomes a reality – a list that includes (but is not limited to):
There are three betting markets which might also be open for wagering, though several states have already made betting on them illegal:
When California finally signs a sports betting bill into law, you’re going to see the state’s major professional sports teams become instant targets of operators.
In truth, the wooing will likely start well before the ink is dry on the legislation. As we’ve seen in several other states, sportsbooks like to put partnership agreements in place months or even years prior to a signed bill. And with California home to some of the most iconic sports teams in the world, there’s a lot at stake for operators.
Here’s a quick look at the 15 major professional franchises that play their home games in California:
The 2022 Super Bowl champions will see significant interest from multiple big-name sports betting operators – and probably a few second-tier options, as well. And while the NFL doesn’t allow sportsbooks to operate within stadiums, branded sports lounges and off-site wagering venues are quite possible here.
Everything that applies to the Rams is in play for the Chargers, as well. We’ve seen examples of NFL teams maximizing partnerships; take, for example, the two-story sports betting venue being built by BetMGM in tandem with the Arizona Cardinals. The NFL’s first sportsbook is being constructed adjacent to State Farm Stadium.
Of all the NFL venues built to maximize the in-game betting experience, Levi’s Stadium has to be at the top of the list. Completed in 2014, it boasts the most comprehensive WiFi setup in the league, with construction including 400 miles of cable – allowing for one wireless router to be placed every 100 seats.
Given how many partnerships have already been forged between established sports betting companies and NBA franchises, it’s a given that the Lakers will be at the top of the list of sought-after L.A.-based teams. Look for all the branding, signage and free-to-play contests you can handle at Staples Center in the years to come.
It will be interesting to see how the Lakers and Clippers manage their respective sports betting partnerships. There’s little doubt that they’ll have separate official betting partners, which will mean having to get creative with signage displays at Staples Center depending on which team is playing at home on a given night.
While the Lakers and Clippers (and every major sportsbook in the market) could find themselves embroiled in a little friendly competition, the Warriors have no such issue. As the Chase Arena’s sole professional tenant, Golden State should be in great position to secure multiple significant sports betting partnership agreements with ease.
Sacramento might not come anywhere close to L.A. when it comes to Cali profile, but there are compelling reasons to believe that the Kings will secure multiple sportsbook partners. The NBA has been a hotbed for sports betting sponsorship deals, and the size of California’s wagering market overall makes the Kings an easy sell.
The line starts here, folks. The Dodgers are one of the most revered sports franchises on the planet, and sportsbooks will be falling all over themselves to align with this team. One small issue: Dodger Stadium is the third-oldest park in Major League Baseball, and might not be the best place to try and add a modern-day sports betting venue.
As long as the Angels continue to boast some of the top star power in all of Major League Baseball, they should see plenty of partnership interest when legal sports betting becomes a reality. The Angels are one of the most popular teams in the league; they were the fifth team to cross the one-million mark in attendance in 2022.
Both the Giants and the San Diego Padres find themselves behind two of their NL West rivals when it comes to sports betting. Caesars is building a 20,000-square-foot, two-level sports lounge at the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, while DraftKings has emerged as the official first sports betting partner of the Colorado Rockies.
The Padres can only hope that legal sports betting strikes while their franchise is hot. San Diego ranks inside the top-five in average attendance per game in 2022, drawing nearly 37,000 fans per game to Petco Park. As the only San Diego-based pro sports team, the Padres will be one of the more popular franchises for operators.
Times are tough at RingCentral Coliseum, and it would be difficult to envision the Athletics garnering as much sportsbook operator attention as the other California-based Major League Baseball clubs. Not only is Oakland drawing fewer than 9,000 fans per game, there’s no guarantee the team will be staying in the state in the long term.
Don’t forget Staples Center’s other professional tenant – the sportsbooks sure won’t. While the Kings traditionally aren’t the same kind of draw as the Lakers and Clippers, they still saw an average of nearly 15,000 fans come through the turnstiles during the 2021-22 season. They’ll be sought after by several sportsbooks.
NHL teams have been a step behind their NBA brethren when it comes to establishing sports betting partnerships, but the Ducks shouldn’t have to wait long. Being one of only two major pro sports teams in Anaheim has its perks, as does the fact that Honda Center will be one of the key venues for the 2028 Olympic Games.
As with most single-team cities in areas with legal sports betting, San Jose and the Sharks will garner plenty of attention from operators. That said, one issue will be whether SAP Center will see improved WiFi; the arena improved its network in 2016 but is still saddled with reliability and lag issues.
Like most states, California has put safeguards in place to ensure that gamblers have a way out of any potential trouble spots.
The California Council on Problem Gambling offers comprehensive support to those who have gambling problems, including access to counselors and therapists, residential or outpatient treatment facilities, and a hotline you can either call or text.
Unfortunately, sports betting is illegal in California. And while legislation is moving in the right direction, it likely won’t be until late 2023 – or beyond – before sports wagering gets the green light.
You will be able to create an account, deposit, make bets and withdraw at any retail or mobile sportsbook, even if you don’t reside in California.
It’s uncertain whether esports will be part of the final California sports betting bill. And even if it is, there will likely be regulations in place where events would first need to be approved by a state legislative body before showing up on sportsbook apps.
Big. Huge. Humongous. Get out your thesaurus and find a few other words, if you like. California is by far the largest potential sports betting market in the United States, with a population of 39.7 million (2022 estimate).
The California Gambling Control Commission will likely be given regulatory powers when sports betting becomes legal. You’ll find plenty of information on the CGCC website, including lists of licensees and registrants and general gaming regulations.
This might be the most difficult question of all to answer right now. It’s hard to envision any sports betting operator passing on the opportunity to ply their trade in the Golden State. Still, we have to assume that the major players will be at the front of the line, a list that includes DraftKings, Caesars, FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet and Barstool.