Can You Play Online Poker in California?
No, you cannot play online poker legally in California. Despite the presence of poker rooms and a considerable number of players, the status of online poker in California remains quite intricate and is still considered illegal. Attempts to legalize gambling and establish a state-regulated online poker platform have faced challenges over time.
Why Not? What Are the Online Poker Laws in California?
Playing poker for money in California is against the law due to the state's regulations. According to Section 330 of California’s code, engaging in gambling is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment. Despite attempts to change these laws over the decade, the current situation remains unchanged, making online poker illegal.
For poker enthusiasts residing in California, their only legal option is to participate in social poker platforms where they can enjoy games or tournaments without any incentives. However, those seeking to play for real money may explore gray areas by participating in offshore online poker sites.
Offshore sites are online gambling sites not domiciled in the United States. This means they’re not bound by state or federal laws. While it is possible to register and play for real cash on these sites as a Californian, MyPokerCoaching does not recommend playing on these sites.
Offshore sites are not regulated by US and California authorities, which makes them particularly risky for players. Your winnings are not secure on these sites, and if you run into any trouble or suspect fraud, there’s no guarantee that your issue will be properly addressed. Some offshore sites have also been accused of unfair practices and other improprieties, which makes it very risky to patronize them.
Potential California Poker Sites to Launch in the Future
Poker has been popular in California for many years, but the state is still to regulate online poker sites. There have been several attempts at it over the years, but so far, none have come to fruition.
It is a pretty safe bet that online poker in CA will be regulated at some point in the future, so the only real question is when. While it’s hard to give any definitive answer at this point in time, we continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated with any important developments.
When online poker is finally legal in CA, there are a few sites that we can expect to go live. These are all operators with a major presence in the regulated US market, and they’ll likely jump at the opportunity to expand their presence.
BetMGM Poker California
BetMGM has established itself as a household name in the regulated US online poker space, and the operator will likely be among the first to stake a claim in such an attractive new market.
We expect BetMGM Poker will bring out a platform similar to that in other states like PA, MI, and NJ. A poker client powered by the PartyPoker technology offers a modern and very reliable solution for all online poker fans, even if it is not as rich in functionalities as some other platforms.
In terms of game variety, players can look forward to a nice mix of online tournaments, a wide range of cash game stakes, and, in all likelihood, BetMGM Poker’s staple SPINS – a hugely popular sit & go variation featuring a random jackpot.
It is also likely that BetMGM Poker CA will come out of the gate swinging, offering a generous welcome bonus. With what’s likely to be heavy competition in the state, all sites will look for ways to stand out, and this is generally a good thing for the players.
Although the company couldn’t enter the US before 2016, PokerStars has established itself as a staple name of online poker in the country, just like they have done in the global market.
Once the regulation is finally passed, the launch of PokerStars is pretty much a guarantee. This is especially true if the state passes a law with the expectation of joining the MSIGA, as the operator seems eager to take advantage of opportunities provided by interstate poker.
But even without that particular element, CA is a big enough market on its own.
What PokerStars brings to the table is the operator’s experience in organizing major online series, first and foremost. US versions of ‘COOP events have been hugely successful in all states where the site currently has a presence, and there is no reason to think California would be an exception.
PokerStars also offers one of the best software solutions for desktop computers and mobile devices alike. This enhances the player experience and certainly helps push the site towards the top of the list when deciding where to play.
The third CA poker site likely to go live as soon as legal requirements are met is WSOP.com. Right now, WSOP is the only operator present in all regulated US markets with active poker sites, and the company is on the constant lookout for expansion opportunities.
WSOP.com has one trump card that no other operators can match, which is its ability to host bracelet-awarding events and exclusive satellites to live World Series of Poker tournaments. This has helped the operator remain competitive across the country.
A launch in a new state would likely mean an exclusive bracelet series, giving players in the state great opportunities to win some WSOP silverware from the comfort of their home, and if past experience is any indicator, this is an opportunity that players jump on.
WSOP should have no problem claiming its fair share of the new market despite competitors, with the operators’ numbers surging during major live and online events.