Is BetMGM Legal in California?

Whether BetMGM Legal in California garners significant interest among betting enthusiasts and legal experts.

BetMGM, a significant player in the online betting industry, offers various gambling options, from sports betting to casino games.

However, the legal status of such platforms can vary significantly from one state to another, given the patchwork of gambling laws across the United States. California, known for its stringent gambling regulations, has its own rules governing the operation and use of online betting platforms within its borders.

Understanding the legality of BetMGM in California requires a close look at both state legislation and the broader federal legal framework that impacts online gambling.

While some states have embraced online betting with open arms, California’s approach has been more cautious, focusing on protecting residents from potential risks associated with gambling.

This stance raises questions about the accessibility of platforms like BetMGM for Californians, making it a topic of much debate and discussion among those looking to participate in online betting legally.

BetMGM Legal in California

Overview of Online Gambling in the United States

Online gambling in the United States presents a complex landscape shaped by varying state laws, federal regulations, and evolving attitudes towards internet-based betting.

The history of online gambling in the U.S. is marked by significant legislative milestones, including the Federal Wire Act of 1961, initially aimed at combating interstate betting operations that could facilitate organized crime.

However, the advent of the Internet necessitated legal reinterpretations, notably with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, which targeted the financial transactions associated with online gambling, effectively making it difficult for many operators to do business in the U.S.

Despite the UIGEA, the legal stance on online gambling has not been uniform across the country.

The pivotal moment came in 2011 when the Department of Justice reinterpreted the Federal Wire Act, opening the door for states to legislate and regulate online gambling within their borders.

This decision led to a wave of legislative initiatives across various states, with some embracing online casinos, poker, and sports betting while others maintained strict prohibitions.

The legality of online gambling in the U.S. is primarily determined at the state level, leading to a patchwork of regulations. States like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan have established comprehensive online gambling frameworks, allowing a wide range of betting activities.

In contrast, other states have taken a more restrictive approach, only legalizing certain forms of betting, such as sports betting or lottery ticket sales online.

The Gambling Laws in California

California’s gambling laws are a complex web of regulations that govern the various forms of gambling within the state. The legal framework for gambling in California is primarily defined by state constitutional provisions, statutory laws, and a series of regulatory decisions.

At its core, California permits several forms of gambling but remains stringent regarding online gambling and sports betting.

The state constitution provides the legal bedrock for gambling, explicitly allowing certain types of gaming while prohibiting others. California allows Native American tribal gaming, cardrooms, pari-mutuel horse wagering, charitable gaming, and the state lottery.

Tribal casinos operate under compacts with the state and offer a range of gaming activities, including slots, table games, and poker, under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) at the federal level.

Cardrooms, distinct from tribal casinos, are allowed to offer games of skill, such as poker, but cannot offer banked card games that casinos typically provide.

Online gambling, however, remains a grey area in California law. The state has not passed legislation to legalize online casino games or online sports betting, making the operation and participation in these activities legally ambiguous.

This lack of clear legal status for online gambling means that many forms of internet betting are not explicitly authorized, leading to residents turning to offshore betting sites, which operate in a legal grey area and are not regulated by California law.

Is BetMGM Legal in California?

No, BetMGM is not currently legal in California. Online sports betting is not yet authorized in the state, so using BetMGM there would be illegal.

California has yet to pass legislation allowing online sports betting or online casino operations within its jurisdiction.

This means that platforms like BetMGM, which offer online sports wagering and casino games, cannot legally operate in the state without a change in legislation.

California’s gambling laws primarily allow for tribal gaming, state lottery, pari-mutuel horse race betting, card rooms, and charitable gaming.

The legal framework has not been expanded to include online sports betting or casino gambling, making it a challenging environment for online betting platforms to enter the market legally.

Several attempts to legalize sports betting have been made, notably through propositions that would amend the state constitution, but none had succeeded as of early 2023.

Factors Influencing the Legality of Online Betting in California

The legality of online betting in California is influenced by a complex interplay of factors, each contributing to the state’s cautious approach toward legalizing online gambling platforms.

Understanding these factors provides insight into California’s current legal status and the potential future of online betting.

Here are the key elements at play:

1. Tribal Gaming Agreements

California’s gambling landscape is significantly shaped by agreements with Native American tribes, which hold exclusive rights to casino-style gambling in the state.

These agreements, or compacts, have been negotiated to allow tribes to operate casinos on their lands.

Any move to legalize online betting must consider the impact on tribal revenues and their exclusive rights to certain types of gaming, making negotiations complex and often contentious.

2. Legislative Hurdles

For online betting to become legal in California, legislation must be passed through the state legislature and, in some cases, approved by voters through a referendum.

This process is complicated by competing interests among stakeholders, including tribal groups, commercial casinos, racetracks, and card rooms.

Crafting legislation that satisfies all parties is challenging, leading to stalled efforts and competing ballot initiatives.

3. Federal Laws

While the 2018 Supreme Court decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), allowing states to legalize sports betting, other federal laws like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 still impact how online betting can be implemented at the state level.

California must navigate these laws to establish a legal framework for online betting.

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4. Economic Considerations

The potential revenue from online betting is a significant factor for California, with estimates suggesting that legal sports betting could bring substantial tax income to the state.

However, economic considerations also include the potential impact on existing gambling revenues, particularly those from tribal casinos, which are a crucial source of income for many Native American communities in California.

5. Public Opinion and Social Concerns

Public sentiment plays a crucial role in shaping the debate around online betting. Concerns over gambling addiction, underage betting, and the integrity of sports have all been cited as reasons for caution.

Any move to legalize online betting would need to address these concerns through robust regulatory measures and responsible gambling initiatives.

6. Technological and Market Trends

The growing prevalence of online and mobile betting platforms nationally and globally pressures California to adapt its gambling laws.

As residents access offshore betting sites or travel to states where online betting is legal, there’s an argument for California to regulate and legalize online betting to protect consumers and capture lost revenue.


The current legal framework in California leaves BetMGM and similar online betting platforms in a position where they cannot operate legally within the state.

This status quo reflects the state’s complex regulatory environment, prioritizes tribal gaming agreements, navigates diverse legislative challenges, and considers the social implications of gambling expansion.

Despite the growing demand for online betting options among Californians, the path to legalizing platforms like BetMGM is fraught with hurdles, including the need for legislative consensus and, potentially, voter approval.

Looking ahead, the future of online betting in California remains uncertain. As legislative efforts continue and public opinion evolves, there may be changes that could allow BetMGM and other platforms to enter the market legally.

Such a shift would require careful balancing of interests among tribal entities, commercial operators, and regulatory bodies to ensure a fair, responsible, and economically beneficial outcome for all stakeholders.

Until then, residents of California are left waiting for a legal resolution that could bring regulated online betting options to the state.


Can I use offshore betting sites while in California?

While some individuals use offshore betting sites, it’s important to note that these sites operate in a legal grey area and are not regulated by California law. Using them carries risks, and it’s advisable to wait for legal online betting options if you want a secure and regulated experience.

Are there any ongoing legislative efforts to legalize online betting in California?

There have been multiple legislative efforts to legalize online betting in California. However, these efforts have faced challenges and have not resulted in legal changes as of the latest update. The status of proposed bills and initiatives may change over time.

Can I bet on California sports in other ways, such as in-person sportsbooks?

California does allow certain forms of in-person sports betting, such as at tribal casinos. However, online sports betting remains illegal in the state until legislation permits it.

Are there responsible gambling resources available for Californians?

Yes, there are responsible gambling resources and organizations available in California to help individuals with gambling-related issues. If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, you can seek assistance from these organizations.

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