California Land-Based + Online Gambling Laws

Gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. but to protect gamblers, casinos, and tax revenue, states like California are always tightening their gaming laws and regulations to ensure honest gambling. According to the California Gambling Control Commission, a regulatory body that establishes laws in card rooms, tribal casinos, and player services, the goal for California gambling is to remove any corrupt or criminal elements from gaming.

Regulated gambling includes horse racing, online slots for California players, lotteries, card games, bingo, and any game of chance played within a casino or off-site betting facility. Laws, while people under a certain age may disagree, are essential to keep intact in order for states to generate tax revenue from gambling.

In California, lotteries are pari-mutuel betting (i.e. horse racing) and are open to people aged 18 or up. The same goes for charity bingo events and pull-tabs. Slot machine gambling and casino games vary, though 21 and up is standard. Gamblers are allowed to gamble in Indian casinos at 18, though many of them bump the age requirement to 21 because they serve alcohol on the floor. This policy is enforced because of liquor licenses and that carding at tables can take away from the experience for other gamblers.

In essence, states have almost complete control over the gambling that takes place within their borders. Online gambling, however, is still largely unregulated throughout the entire country.

New Jersey, like Nevada and Delaware, is undergoing a legalized online gambling trial run in six Atlantic City casinos. The state experienced a major decline in gambling revenue over the past few years, and the potential gains from online gambling can buffer the state’s checkbooks that support education, infrastructure, and state-wide programs.

Online gambling is considered unregulated because it is not currently allowed to be hosted by California-based casinos. Instead, gamblers are able to utilize off-shore websites for sports betting, table games, and other gambling. The term “unregulated,” however, should not be viewed negatively; in fact, online gamblers in the U.S. are protected because of international gaming laws. The end user never experiences any negatives.

State-ordained online gambling is usually fronted by casinos with Web-partnerships. Others invest into their own online platforms; regardless, regulated in-state online gambling can generate billions of dollars in gambling revenue every year. Currently, states with tight gambling laws or that outright disallow gambling encourage in-state residents to travel to out-of-state casinos. These dollars, instead of going from the gambler’s pocket to the house and back to the state, are matriculated into the host-state’s revenue.

One of the major holdups to regulated online gambling in California is the cost of a licensing fee. There have been a number of senator-proposed fees, ranging from $5-15 million. Eligibility is another issue, though as other states begin to implement Web-gambling regulations, California will likely follow suit.

Compromise is key for California legislators. Most regulatory bodies agree that online gambling is a healthy way to generate in-state revenue; deciding on the finer points, such as licensing fees, requirements, and licensing terms, is delaying the process. For now, gamblers should be satisfied with California’s moderate gaming laws (compared to other parts of the country) and look forward to regulated online gambling in 2014.

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