By Steve Beauregard
As of January 1st, 2017, there are 62 legal casinos in the state of California, according to the California Gambling Commission.
In addition to these, there are 89 separate legal cardrooms in the state. (More on that below).
These 62 casinos range from very small dinky buildings containing just a few slot machines, to some of the largest casinos in the entire United States.
The Morongo Casino Resort & Spa is one of 62 casinos in California
They are all Indian casinos, operated by federally-recognized tribes, so none are privately owned. In fact, the state’s 62 casinos are operated by 60 different Indian tribes.
The casinos are spread out throughout the Golden State, from the Quechan Casino in the south (1.5 miles from the Mexican border), all the way up north to the Lucky 7 Casino, just 2 miles away from the Oregon state line.
You’ll find them within 30 miles of the nation’s second largest metropolitan area, (Los Angeles) and in towns of just 3,000 people (Alturus).
These all came about because of a voter-approved amendment passed in 2000 that allowed casinos (with some gaming restrictions), on Indian, or Native American-owned land.
Those restrictions include a few quirks that make California casinos slightly different from their cousins to the east in Las Vegas.
For example, while there are craps games and roulette wheels, they are not craps or roulette in the traditional sense. For some odd reason, the use of dice and the spinning ball are specifically against California law.
Instead, both roulette and craps are card-based games. Although they have the same odds and table layouts you’d find at traditional roulette and craps tables in say, Las Vegas, the rolls and spins are determined by the flip of a card.
Indian Casinos in California with Slot Machines
While I have not investigated all 62 of these casinos, it is widely accepted that all have slot machines. The vast majority also have table games.
Many of the larger California casinos are luxurious resorts with restaurants, spas, concert venues, golf courses and amenities that would place them right at home on the Las Vegas Strip.
Places like the Pechanga Resort at Casino in Temecula, California, for example, are enormous. In fact, Pechanga is one of the biggest casinos in the U.S.), boasting close to 4,000 slot machines.
The Thunder Valley Casino Resort, just north of Sacramento, is one of the largest casinos in the USA
Other California casinos, such as the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, and the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, each has over 220,000 square feet of gaming space, making each larger than the massive MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip.
The San Diego area is a hotspot for California gambling. San Diego County is home to 9 of the state’s 62 casinos.
California Casinos vs. Cardrooms
As mentioned above, there are 89 cardrooms in California, along with the 62 casinos. What makes it confusing sometimes is that a cardroom will call itself a casino.
Two of the state’s largest and busiest cardrooms for example, the Bicycle Casino and Commerce casino, both in the Los Angeles area, call themselves “casinos” but are legally just cardrooms, and therefore do not have any slot machines.
The state’s 89 cardrooms are allowed to have poker tables and table games only. Most have a variety of table games such as baccarat, pai-gow, and variations of blackjack.
Remember, just because a place calls itself a casino, does NOT mean it has slot machines.
Full List of California Casinos
Here are all 62 casinos in California, along with the city in which they are located:
Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa – Rancho Mirage
Augustine Casino – Coachella
Barona Resort & Casino – Lakeside
Bear River Casino Hotel – Loleta
Black Oak Casino – Tuolumne
Blue Lake Casino & Hotel – Blue Lake
Cache Creek Casino Resort – Brooks
Cahuilla Casino – Anza
Casino Pauma – Pauma Valley
Cher-Ae Heights Casino – Trinidad
Chicken Ranch Casino – Jamestown
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino – Coarsegold
Chumash Casino Resort – Santa Ynez
Colusa Casino Resort – Colusa
Coyote Valley (Shodakai Casino) – Redwood Valley
Desert Rose Casino – Alturas
Diamond Mountain Casino & Hotel – Susanville
Eagle Mountain Casino – Porterville
Elk Valley Casino – Riverside
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino – Indio
Feather Falls Casino & Lodge – Oroville
Garcia River Casino – Point Arena
Gold Country Casino & Hotel – Oroville
Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center – Campo
Graton Resort & Casino – Rohnert Park
Harrah’s Resort Southern California – Valley Center
Havasu Landing Resort & Casino – Havasu Lake
Hollywood Casino Jamul San Diego – Jamul
Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel – Jackson
Konocti Vista Casino – Lakeport
Lucky 7 Casino – Smith River
Lucky Bear Casino – Hoopa
Mono Wind Casino – Auberry
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa – Cabazon
Paiute Palace Casino – Bishop
Pala Casino Spa Resort – Pala
Pechanga Resort & Casino – Temecula
Pit River Casino – Burney
Quechan Casino Resort – Winterhaven
Red Earth Casino – Salton Sea Beach
Red Fox Casino – Laytonville
Red Hawk Casino – Placerville
Redwood Hotel and Casino –Klamath
River Rock Casino – Geyserville
Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino – Nice
Rolling Hills Casino – Corning
Running Creek Casino – Upper Lake
San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino – Highland
Sherwood Valley Rancheria Casino – Willits
Sho-Ka-Wah Casino – Hopland
Soboba Casino – San Jacinto
Spa Resort Casino – Palm Springs
Spotlight 29 Casino – Coachella
Sycuan Casino & Resort -El Cajon
Table Mountain Casino – Riverside
Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino – Lemoore
Thunder Valley Casino Resort – Lincoln
Tortoise Rock Casino – Twentynine Palms
Twin Pine Casino & Hotel – Middletown
Valley View Casino & Hotel – Valley Center
Viejas Casino and Resort Viejas – Alpine
Win-River Casino – Redding
The Aqua Caliente Resort Casino in Palm Springs
Other California Casino Tidbits
In addition to the casinos and cardrooms mentioned above, there are six horse racetracks in the state, along with 30 off-tract-betting (OTB) parlors.
According to California economist Alan Meister, author of Casino City’s annual Indian Gaming Industry Report, the state’s casinos bring in over $7 billion dollars of gaming revenue a year.
(Related: Casinos and Cardrooms close to Los Angeles)
California’s Indian casinos bring in approximately 25% of all Indian casino gaming revenue in the United States.
Two Indian tribes, the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians are the only two tribes to own more than one casino in the state. These tribes each operate two casinos.
(Photos courtesy of the Morongo Resort’s website, Ray Bouknight and Greg Gjerdingen via Flickr.)