Millions of US Players are turning to online gambling, and California Players are no exception – being at the forefront of the popularity boom! On this page we cover a wide variety of topics for gambling that includes Getting Started Online, Gaming Options and legality, tips and tricks.
In addition, we have created a list of California Online Casinos which are honest, safe and trustworthy. We haven’t used a methodology that is overly complicated, but one that requires a lot effort through testing and collecting feedback from many players.
In summary, we list the top California sites per below:
Top California Online Casino Sites
220% up to $1,000Welcome Bonus
|2||El Royale Casino||
250% up to $12,500Welcome Bonus
|3||Red Dog Casino||
225% up to $1,000Welcome Bonus
|4||Vegas Casino Online||
400% up to $10,000Welcome Bonus
200% up to $1,000Welcome Bonus
Creating a recommended list of online casino sites for Californians is similar to any product review, i.e. it is a relatively simple process but it takes a lot of time and effort. We play and test the online casinos ourselves and through our readership we garner feedback from other Californian players. We collate the feedback, ensure that responses are appropriately categorized and comparable, then produce a list of the top online casino sites.
The list of top California online casinos is based on several key criteria: Safe and Secure Payment Methods, Game Selection variety and the quality of Customer Service. A combination of these three attributes forms a good online casino to play at. Each casino may have different attributes that they excel at, and some have an overall high quality across all three.
Let’s now go through the key criteria upon which online casinos are ranked against.
Safe and Secure Deposit and Withdrawal Methods
The majority of player feedback (we discovered this through our own play as well) showed that finding an online casino with safe and secure depositing and withdrawal methods was a key criteria in defining a top online casino site.
In general most casinos have more deposit methods than withdrawals. This is driven by fees of a payment method being incurred by the payer rather than the payee. Hence for a casino to offer a myriad of deposit methods, it comes at no cost to the casino. But by having many withdrawal payment methods then it can become quite expensive (however we have found that some casinos pass on the fee onto the player).
Payment methods that are safe and secure far outrank other criteria for defining a top online casino. By nature, the worst experience to have is making a deposit and then not being able to play at all. It’s an experience with the same feeling as being scammed. Though it may not be intentional, making a deposit that gets lost in the ether is absolutely frustrating.
We found secure deposit methods included:
- credit cards – Mastercard, VISA and AMEX
- bank wires
- cash like transactions – prepaid cards and debit cards
- well known e-wallets
- Bitcoin (other cryptocurrencies were normally not accepted)
Niche deposit methods were seen to be offered by the new casinos (possibly as a way of differentiating from the established).
In general, withdrawal methods by most online casinos were safe and secure. Issues that were raised by some players regarding withdrawal surrounded the identification or delay in processing. Those we ranked as the best online casinos had less negative feedback on their withdrawal process, with receiving a handful of complaints. However, it’s important to note, that there are some players who are just never satisfied.
Variety of Game Selection
A variety of games came through strong in our review of casinos. In our recommended list all the big games are available: Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Sic Bo, Keno, Pai Gow, Craps, Three Card Poker, Video Poker, Casino Wars, and many others. But not only that, the variations within each can also be found.
For slots, it was particularly noticeable that a top online casino should have a large library of themes.
Selection of Slot Games
To clarify, all online casinos will offer slots, however the top casinos tend to fulfill other aspects. It’s clear that each slot player is different – some are looking for theme variety, others want low denominations low and others want high, there are some that want to hit the big jackpot with progressive and others who want the smaller but more regular non progressive wins. There are other combinations that there isn’t one online casino that can cater for all aspects.
In saying that, the top casinos will cover the majority, but not all. Slot players should go through the list and select which casino they feel suits them best.
Professional Customer Service Support
Playing online casino games could be seen as a subscription to a software service. Yes, players are playing games without paying a “service fee”, but games are being paid after placing a deposit and with the expectation that the gaming is up to certain quality or standard. There will be times when Customer Support will need to be engaged, every player will experience it at least several times, and therefore customer service plays an important factor in ranking online casinos.
The better online casinos have several modes of servicing customer queries. Most have a dedicated email address for queries, whilst the top casinos have instant chat messages and even a phone line.
Customer support assessment also includes responsiveness. It’s pointless having great accessibility but with no one answering the queries. Many tout that they have 24/7 support, but demonstrated a lengthy delay in answering.
Customer Service responsiveness and professionalism is key is determining a good online casino to play at.
California Offshore Casino Activity
California is the most active state that participates in offshore online gambling at casinos as of 2020 with a gross win amount of $253.27m. California contributes to 21.8% of all offshore casino activity in the United States for 2020. Click here to see a breakdown of all offshore gambling activity broken down by state.
The following is a breakdown of all offshore casino gambling from California since 2003.
*Note: Data from 2020 are currently based on estimates.
Source – H2 Gambling Capital
Offshore gambling statistics for sports betting from California can be found here.
How does Online compare to Land Based in California?
The largest California casinos include Pechanga, San Manuel and Morongo. All three offer over thousands of slot machines, the largest offering in Pechanga of over 2,000. In terms of themes, each hold just over 200 to 300 different themes in which you can find all online (if permission obtained from game manufacturers). Therefore, theme versions can be found both at land based and online.
A slight difference to be mentioned, is the Federal compact that native American casinos must abide by.
The compact is an agreement, that requires casino games to be categorized as Class I, II or III. Vegas slot machines (true and genuine slot machines) are categorized as Class III which are not permitted to be offered to players at native American California casinos.
As a result “Class II slot machines” were created in accordance with the law. Class II slot machines are not Vegas Slot machines, but are in fact fast paced bingo machines. This means, the logic is configured differently and therefore in a true sense behave differently to Vegas slot machines.
Online slots are configured and behave as per Vegas style slot machines, whilst land based casinos are configured as fast paced bingo machines.
On a side note: owning a physical slot machine is permitted. The laws allows exemptions to the banning of private and personal slot machines, if it is older than 25 years old and can be defined as an Antique. The purpose of owning a slot machine is only as a collector or hobbyist, and cannot be used as income generating. Strict and enforceable penalties apply, if you are caught operating an illegal slot den.
If you are new to online casinos, then you may not be aware that Live Dealers are available to play at. Live Dealers are where real dealers are streamed live through the internet and onto your playing device. Live Dealers are very popular because they simulate exactly the same playing nuances of playing at a land based casino. This is the same as playing at a land based casino through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or any other applications which provides a live feed.
Of course, playing through a Live Dealer feed means that the wagering is all performed digitally online without the use of physical chips. Communication with the Dealer and with other Players is optional, mostly through direct messaging.
The majority of online casinos offer Live Dealers for Blackjack and Roulette. Other table games such as Baccarat, Sic Bo and Pai Gow can also be found, but are not as popular as Blackjack or Roulette.
Note: in reference to Roulette, you will not be able to find this game offered at any land based casino in California as it is against the State law. Please refer to the below section: California Gambling Laws.
Online Casino Top Tips
There are some good tips and points for online players. Rather than discuss all of them, we discuss three which we thought would be most useful.
- Choosing the right Payments Method
- Bust the myth that no player can win online
- Bonus chasing is a terrible strategy
Choosing the right Payment Method
All our recommended casinos offer payments methods that are well known, reliable and trusted. Having said that, even though credit cards can be used, we do NOT advocate the use of credit to play at casinos (online and land based). One of the golden rules of gambling is to play within your means, and using credit often leads to playing outside of the budget.
So stick with either bank wires or using e-wallets. Some online casinos will also accept crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, which we have found to also be safe and reliable.
Payment method across all online casinos are generally processed within the same time frame for deposits. Within a day or two, a members account can be created and bank roll applied to allow you to quickly begin playing. Withdrawals are a different story. Withdrawal methods are commonly less in option, but are just as quick and efficient as depositing.
Often the withdrawal efficiency may be delayed NOT because of the method being used. Because there may be ID verification requirements and/or Terms and Conditions have not been met. As an example the Wagering Requirement has not been met.
Please take careful note of Terms and Conditions, especially for wagering requirements, Valid Identification documents and legal age requirements.
It’s not possible to win at an Online Casino
This could not be more further from the truth. The top online casinos all partner reputable gaming developers that have had their games independently audited. We have also gathered feed back from many players who can attest that they have won, and some with substantial wins too. Nevertheless, the long term edge does belong to the online casino, but do not believe the myth that no player can ever win. That is not true.
Bonus chasing is a Terrible Strategy
We know that some players have a strategy of chasing the casinos with the best bonuses, playing to meet the minimum wagering requirements and then withdrawing. Bonus chasing is a very difficult strategy to implement. Wagering requirements are usually set very high, leading to hours upon hours of play. Having in the back of the mind that playing is simply to meet wagering requirements is excruciatingly boring.
Unless the player is a robot, we strongly suggest avoid bonus chasing as a strategy for online casinos.
California Gambling Laws
California – The Golden State – is by far one of the most progressive states in the US. And its openness to online gambling is no exception. Relative to other US States, California offers the most forms of online gambling. Other US States have relatively stricter gambling laws and thus preclude some casino games, take poker as an example.
In all the feedback we receive, the number question on the minds of Californians looking to play is legality.
Is it legal for Californians to gamble online?
The answer varies in regards to the form. For sports betting, legislation and regulation continues to be a work in progress, however for online casinos you can rest assured that there are many legal online casinos that accept US players, including Californians.
These casino sites are commonly based offshore, in compliance and under regulation of strict territorial laws. These offshore based entities in the past may have been associated with shoddy and poor quality gaming, however this is no longer the case. You will find that many of the corporate companies – such as Google – have legitimate offshore entities and yet provide genuine and reliable service. This applies the same to online casinos.
Gambling Laws relating to Land Based
There is no doubt that California is one of the most liberal of US States. Accordingly you will be able to find many gambling venues scattered throughout the State. Game selection is also wide, with over hundreds of land based casinos, several race tracks and hundreds of bingo halls. In addition, the state has a lottery which raised significant revenue that is directed to public works.
There are some gambling products which are however clearly against the law.
Specifically, California Penal Code § 330 et seq; Bus and Prof. Code § 19400 et seq.; California Government Code § 98001 et seq does not allow the following games:
- rouge et noire
- hokey-pokey, and
- any banking or percentage games played with cards or dice.
At the time of writing sports betting remains illegal. A referendum was scheduled for 2020, however this remains in doubt due to the Covid 19 containment measures. If a sports bet is to be placed, options include creating an account with an offshore based sports book.
Daily Fantasy Sports also remains illegal. There are however, offshore daily fantasy betting sites that can be played at.
The minimum age requirement to gamble is 18 in the State of California, however casinos are allowed to set their own minimum age requirement above 18, if they wish.
WagerDex has disclosed the above statements as information only. We do not purport that the information is complete nor correct in entirety. The above statements are not be used as specific legal advice. No attorney and clients relationship exists between WagerDex and readers of this site.