California Legal Poker 2017

California

Pop quiz: Which US state boasts one of the best cardrooms in the world and has produced some of the game's best players, but is yet to pass regulated online poker?

Answer: California.

Looking for legal poker sites in California? Don't worry. With two bills proposed, and with a population likely to embrace newly regulated legal poker sites in California, the Sunshine State could well see its first legalized Internet poker rooms by next year.

Is Online Poker Legal in California?
Is Online Poker Legal in California?

As in many US states, there is no law prohibiting the actual playing of online poker in California. There have been many attempts to legalize and regulate the game properly, but because of many competing interests - notably powerful brick-and-mortar card clubs and the influential tribal casinos - no legislation has so far been successful.

As of 2017, virtually all forms of poker are legal in California, but the current online laws are hazy, to say the least. In terms of playing online poker California legal experts agree that things could be clearer.

What Laws Have Been Proposed?
What Laws Have Been Proposed?

Initially, legislation proposed by California Senator Lou Correa - SB 678 (also known as the Authorization and Regulation of Internet Poker and Consumer Protection Act of 2013) - had the backing of some tribes, including the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Most notably, only taxed and regulated online poker California sites were to be allowed under the new legislation - with classic table games, like roulette, outlawed.

Despite numerous amendments to the bill, as of 2017, nothing has been signed into the statute books but SB 678 - and its almost identical partner, SB 1366 - remains a definite possibility to be implemented in the next year. So while legal poker sites are a no-go in California right now in terms of government-regulated sites, that could soon change.

Are Any More Bills Likely?
California - Are Any More Bills Likely?

While rival Indian tribes discuss the best way to implement a possible SB 678 Bill, similar legislation - SB 51, also known as the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2013 - will include online horse racing and racetracks in any new laws.

Under the proposed SB 51, options open to thousands of online players around the world, such as player-to-player transfers, would be permitted. That's great news for online poker CA players who want to get there money onto a site fast.

As in New Jersey, a “bad actor” clause is a requirement of SB 51, whereby any poker site that took American bets after UIGEA was implemented in 2006 would be barred from operating in the Sunshine State.

Finally, a more widely supported Bill - AB 2291 - was introduced in February 2014 before the legislature deadline. This bill gained a lot of traction among the online poker California community.

AB 2291 - The Gambling Control Act - is supported by a multitude of Native American tribes in California, and prohibits the setting up of new online poker sites to existing card clubs and tribal casinos.

Interestingly, however, there is no “bad actor” clause included in AB 2291, and if legislation were to be passed, it is conceivable tribal casinos could buddy up with major global online poker firms to launch websites, as has been seen in New Jersey.

What's the Live Poker Scene Like?
California - What's the Live Poker Scene Like?

While legal poker sites in California haven't come to fruition, live poker has been legal in California for a century, and that is reflected in the state's range of legal brick-and-mortar establishments.

As well as many tribal casinos that have poker tables, there are dozens of card clubs like the home of the WPT LA Poker Classic - the Commerce Casino - which can comfortably seat hundreds of players.

In August 2017, 534 entrants played out the $10,000-buy-in LA Poker Classic at the Commerce, with British pro Chris Moorman taking away a first prize over $1 million.

San Jose's Bay 101 also stages an annual WPT event, and major California Championships and WSOP Circuit events are held in the state each year.

The Future of Legal Poker In California
The Future of Legal Poker In California

Whether the tribal casinos come to an agreement or not, the future of legal poker California players can enjoy may lie in a proposed bill outlawing the game across the entire United States.

The Restoration of the America's Wire Act would reverse a 2011 decision by the Department of Justice not to include poker in any online federal ban. Worryingly for California pro-poker activists, the Senate Bill is supported by the US Senator from that state, Dianne Feinstein.

FAQ

Is Online Poker Legal in California?

Playing poker online isn't strictly legal in CA, but no one has ever been prosecuted for playing Internet poker there. That's not to say you will find it easy to make real-cash deposits at unregulated sites if you live in California, but overall, there is nothing to stop US players from enjoying the games online in 2017 as much as anyone else in the US. Even though the online poker California legal situation hasn't been totally solved, lots of people still enjoy the game.

What Age Do You Have to Be To Gamble In California?

21 years of age or older.

Are There Any Live Casinos in California?

Some of the world's most famous land-based card clubs are in California. Boasting itself the world's largest poker club with 243 tables is the Commerce Casino, while the Bicycle Casino (190 tables) and San Jose's Bay 101 (30 tables) all offer world-class poker action as well. Traditional table games played for real-money like blackjack and roulette are banned in the state, however.

Can I Make Deposits In California?

There are no specific laws outlawing the best poker sites in California, but CA players should still be mindful that some real-money deposit methods may not work online. Check your favorite rooms to make sure you are using the best US banking method to load up funds.