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Online casino gaming in California – what does the law say? 

There is as much disinformation as there is information on the subject of online gambling in California. Last month, The Golden State came within a whisker of legalizing online sports betting at the midterms, but ultimately the referendum went narrowly against. Similarly, the legalization of online poker has been under discussion for the past decade, but the involved parties have never quite been able to thrash out terms that work for everyone.

You might conclude from all this that despite having the internet at our fingertips, placing a bet online is impossible for Californians. Yet that isn’t quite true. Dozens of offshore casino and sports betting sites are available to users across the US, and these can be accessed by gamblers in California. But is it safe and legal to do so?

The legal position

Online sports betting has been legalized in the majority of US states, while just six have legalized online casinos. There is often an assumption that in the rest, including California, Washington State and Texas, “not legalized” means “not legal” but that is not the case. It is easy to look up a list of online casinos that are legal to play in Washington, California or Texas even though the laws might seem to be at odds with these at first glance.

To unpick the mystery and understand the real position, it is necessary to examine the laws in a little more detail. Here in California, Penal Code sections 330-337 apply to “illegal gambling and gaming.”

As the legal reference above shows, the Code prohibits the operation of games of chance for money, lotteries or even accepting wagers. The point here is that if you operate a casino in California, you are acting illegally. The Code says nothing, however, about placing wagers – so visiting an online casino and placing a bet is not breaking the law.

Are offshore casinos safe?

You might still have reservations about visiting an offshore casino. Even if you are not breaking any laws by visiting these sites and gambling at them, they seem to be sailing close to the wind in marketing their gaming services to players in states like California and Washington.

It’s a reasonable question, and like any industry that operates online, iGaming has its share of shady operators. However, these are in a small minority. Most offshore casinos are professionally operated and are licensed in non-US jurisdictions such as Curacao, Panama or even Malta. Meeting the licensing requirements is no small feat, and these are serious businesses.

Identifying which casinos are trustworthy is not always easy, and this is why third-party independent review sites like Best US Casinos, who put together the list mentioned earlier, are so valuable. They do the legwork of verifying that a casino’s license is genuine, as well as gathering other useful information such as the payment methods accepted, any special promotions they are running and so on. If you are tempted to try your luck at an offshore casino, that is definitely the best place to start.

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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.