The State of California is one in which some attempts have been made to legalize certain forms of online gambling, in a limited way. Specifically, four bills were introduced in 2015 alone with the goal of legalizing and regulating online poker, however, all of those bills died a Legislative death due to inaction.
Furthermore, I have read through the entirety of the laws concerning, ‘Unlawful Gambling,’ in the State of California which would seem to go through virtually all possible forms of unlawful gambling and prescribes penalties for operators of same.
I can promise that the above link is in no way whatsoever an enjoyable read, unless you have a particular interest in long-winded laws that have nothing whatsoever to do with mere players. After having read the statutes above-linked, I can only conclude that there are no penalties whatsoever as pertains mere players of online gambling games, however, there are a number of penalties for operators which vary (mostly fines) based on the games being played.
However, California is an interesting state because their laws make it such that Municipalities and Counties could specifically enact laws that make online gambling illegal for players as well as operators. I do not know that any of these Municipalities have actually done so, or if they have, whether or not it is meaningfully enforced, (I doubt it) but for those of you who have a moral compunction to always operate fully within the law (admittedly, I don’t, some laws are stupid, carry minimal penalties and a high unlikelihood of prosecution) then I would check your Municipal or County codes before gambling online.
For those of you who don’t think California is serious about punishing illegal operators when it comes to unauthorized gambling activities, this may be a good read.
This is not just a recent development, either, as California shut down an illegal sports betting and poker house and made arrests associated therewith over a decade ago.
Therefore, California is serious about punishing those who operate illegally within the state. That should come as no surprise given the state has many legal forms of gambling and is largely protecting its own financial interests. Once again, it is very unlikely that any unauthorized and unregulated online casino operates out of California, and in fact, very few (if any) operate within the United States other than in regulated markets, so they are essentially out of reach of California authorities.
Ultimately, there can be no question that California is inclined to crack down on unauthorized forms of gambling from a standpoint of operators, but the law leaves little question that players are completely free to do as they like. In that sense, online gambling for mere players is legal in all cases barring any Municipal or County ordinances against. However, if California does legalize online card rooms or online gambling in general, then it is possible that these laws may change to say that players may only participate in regulated online gambling...but that remains to be seen.
Once again, we cannot completely ignore the harsh penalties for those operating unlawfully completely, but we are mostly concerned with players, so California will be categorized as, ‘Little/None.’
FINAL RANKING: Little/None: 4
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