Why Craps is (Sort Of) Illegal in California

why is craps illegal in california

1 minute

Last Updated: February 21, 2024

Craps is illegal in California because of a unique piece of legislation that prohibits games that are decided through the outcome of dice. As craps is a dice game that falls under this description, it is banned in California. Furthermore, California does not allow gamblers to play games where they compete directly against the house. Therefore, games like roulette are also banned under this law. In California, games like blackjack pit players against each other instead of the house. This variation of the game is intended to bypass the prohibitions set by the law. 

Gambling in California is only allowed on native land at Tribal Casinos. These casinos have signed a compact with the authorities, which has allowed them to host specific games. A 2004 ruling on the California gambling law allows Tribal Casinos to offer a variation of craps to its players. In this variation, cards are used to determine the outcome of the game and not dice. 

The game has similar craps rules and odds as the dice version, but the difference is the use of cards vs dice. Six cards with values from Ace to 6 are used in the game to simulate a six-sided die. An automatic shuffler is used to generate results, or a dice roll is used to tell players what cards to pick. This depends on the variation of California craps you are playing. If the shuffler spits out the Ace and a five, it means the shooter rolled a six, and all bets are calculated accordingly. 

To play the original version of craps while you are in California, your best bet will be to use an offshore online casino. For those who want the physical version, they will have to go outside California as it is not offered within the state. 

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