California is a gambler’s paradise when it comes to casinos, even though casino gambling is illegal in the state.
But, fortunately for slots and table game lovers, Indian reservations are not considered California land. Therefore, the state’s anti-gambling laws don’t apply at the Indian casinos in California. (Your winnings are still taxable, though.)
This makes for a bustling gaming industry.
As of November 2022, California boasts 66 Indian casinos, with the 66th, Sky River Casino, just opening in August. Those 66 gambling meccas, run by 64 federally recognized tribes, have become the state’s only source for casino gambling. Those 66 tribal casinos also mean California has the third-most casinos in the US, behind Nevada and Oklahoma.
California’s Indian casino gaming industry generates around $9 billion in revenue every year, providing essential funds for community and social services on tribal lands. That number will grow, too, if California sports betting is legalized in the future.
The casino hotels are also often of the most luxurious and well-reviewed hotspots for gambling vacations in the state.
There will be more Indian casinos in California, too, as the state has tribal-state gaming compacts with at least 10 more tribal nations. Seven tribes, who currently don’t own any casino, are either constructing or planning to construct a casino as of this writing.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the best California Indian casinos, as well as a full California casinos list.
Best Indian Casinos in California
California Indian casinos generate more revenue than Indian casinos in any other state in the US. In fiscal year 2021, California and northern Nevada Indian casinos saw $11.9 billion in revenue, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. A hefty majority of that, likely around $9 billion, came from California.
The 66 California casinos are all unique in their own way. They vary in appearance and theme, and many feature high-end resorts, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues.
Full California Casinos List
|Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs||Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation||401 E Amado Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92262|
|Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa Rancho Mirage||Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation||32-250 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270|
|Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City||Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation||68960 E Palm Canyon Dr, Cathedral City, CA 92234|
|Augustine Casino||Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians||84-001 Avenue 54, Coachella, CA 92236|
|Barona Resort & Casino||Barona Band of Mission Indians||1932 Wildcat Canyon Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040|
|Bear River Casino Hotel||Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria||11 Bear Paws Way, Loleta, CA 95551|
|Black Oak Casino||Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians||19400 Tuolumne Rd N, Tuolumne, CA 95379|
|Blue Lake Casino & Hotel||Blue Lake Rancheria||777 Casino Way, Blue Lake, CA 95525|
|Cache Creek Casino Resort||Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation||14455 CA-16, Brooks, CA 95606|
|Cahuilla Casino Hotel||Cahuilla Band of Indians||52702 CA-371, Anza, CA 92539|
|Casino Pauma||Pauma Band of Luiseño Mission Indians||777 Pauma Reservation Rd, Pauma Valley, CA 92061|
|The Heights Casino||Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria||27 Scenic Dr, Trinidad, CA 95570|
|Chicken Ranch Casino||Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians||16929 Chicken Ranch Rd, Jamestown, CA 95327|
|Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino||Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California||711 Lucky Ln, Coarsegold, CA 93614|
|Chumash Casino Resort||Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians||3400 CA-246, Santa Ynez, CA 93460|
|Colusa Casino Resort||Cachil DeHe Band of Wintun Indians||3770 CA-45, Colusa, CA 95932|
|Coyote Valley Casino||Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians||77 BIA Rd 228, Redwood Valley, CA 95470|
|Desert Rose Casino||Alturas Indian Rancheria||901 Co Rd 56, Alturas, CA 96101|
|Diamond Mountain Casino & Hotel||Susanville Indian Rancheria||900 Skyline Rd, Susanville, CA 96130|
|Eagle Mountain Casino||Tule River Indian Tribe of the Tule River Reservation||681 S Reservation Rd, Porterville, CA 93257|
|Elk Valley Casino||Elk Valley Rancheria||2021 Elk Ranch Road, Crescent City, CA 95531|
|Fantasy Springs Resort Casino||Cabazon Band of Mission Indians||84-245 Indio Springs Pkwy, Indio, CA 92203|
|Feather Falls Casino & Lodge||Mooretown Rancheria of Maidu Indians||3 Alverda Dr, Oroville, CA 95966|
|Garcia River Casino||Manchester Band of Pomo Indians||22215 Windy Hollow Rd, Point Arena, CA 95468|
|Gold Country Casino Resort||Berry Creek Rancheria of Maidu Indians||4020 Olive Hwy, Oroville, CA 95966|
|Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center||Campo Band of Diegueno Mission Indians||1800 Golden Acorn Way, Campo, CA 91906|
|Graton Resort & Casino||Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria||288 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park, CA 94928|
|Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain||Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians||3317 Forty Mile Rd, Wheatland, CA 95692|
|Harrah's Northern California Casino||Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians||4640 Coal Mine Rd, Ione, CA 95640|
|Harrah's Resort Southern California||Rincon Band of Luiseño Mission Indians||777 S Resort Dr, Valley Center, CA 92082|
|Havasu Landing Resort & Casino||Chemehuevi Indian Tribe||13145 Havasu Lake Rd, Needles, CA 92363|
|Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort||Jackson Band of Miwuk Indians||12222 New York Ranch Rd, Jackson, CA 95642|
|Jamul Casino||Jamul Indian Village||14145 Campo Rd, Jamul, CA 91935|
|Konocti Vista Casino||Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians||2755 Mission Rancheria Rd, Lakeport, CA 95453|
|Lucky 7 Casino & Hotel||Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation||350 N Indian Rd, Smith River, CA 95567|
|Lucky Bear Casino||Hoopa Valley Tribe||12510 CA-96, Hoopa, CA 95546|
|Mono Wind Casino||Big Sandy Rancheria of Western Mono Indians||37302 Rancheria Ln, Auberry, CA 93602|
|Morongo Casino Resort & Spa||Morongo Band of Mission Indians||49500 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230|
|Pala Casino Spa Resort||Pala Band of Mission Indians||11154 CA-76, Pala, CA 92059|
|Pechanga Resort & Casino||Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians||45000 Pechanga Pkwy, Temecula, CA 92592|
|Pit River Casino||Pit River Tribe||20265 Tamarack Ave, Burney, CA 96013|
|Quechan Casino Resort||Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation||525 Algodones Rd, Winterhaven, CA 92283|
|Rain Rock Casino||Karuk Tribe||777 Casino Way, Yreka, CA 96097|
|Red Earth Casino||Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians||3089 Norm Niver Rd, Thermal, CA 92274|
|Red Fox Casino||Cahto Tribe of the Laytonville Rancheria||200 Cahto Dr, Laytonville, CA 95454|
|Red Hawk Casino||Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians||1 Red Hawk Pkwy, Placerville, CA 95667|
|Redwood Hotel Casino||Yurok Tribe of the Yurok Reservation||171 Klamath Blvd, Klamath, CA 95548|
|River Rock Casino||Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians||3250 CA-128, Geyserville, CA 95441|
|Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino||Robinson Rancheria||1545 State Hwy 20, Nice, CA 95464|
|Rolling Hills Casino and Resort||Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians||2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, CA 96021|
|Running Creek Casino||Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake||635 State Hwy 20, Upper Lake, CA 95485|
|Sherwood Valley Casino||Sherwood Valley Rancheria of Pomo Indians||100 Kawi Pl, Willits, CA 95490|
|Sky River Casino||Wilton Rancheria||1 Sky River Pkwy, Elk Grove, CA 95757|
|Soboba Casino Resort||Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians||22777 Soboba Rd, San Jacinto, CA 92583|
|Spotlight 29 Casino||Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians||46-200 Harrison Pl, Coachella, CA 92236|
|Sycuan Casino Resort||Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation||5469 Casino Way, El Cajon, CA 92019|
|Table Mountain Casino||Table Mountain Rancheria||8184 Table Mountain Rd, Friant, CA 93626|
|Tachi Palace Casino Resort||Santa Rosa Indian Community of the Santa Rosa Rancheria||17225 Jersey Ave, Lemoore, CA 93245|
|Thunder Valley Casino Resort||United Auburn Indian Community||1200 Athens Ave, Lincoln, CA 95648|
|Tortoise Rock Casino||Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians||73829 Baseline Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277|
|Twin Pine Casino & Hotel||Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians||22223 CA-29, Middletown, CA 95461|
|Valley View Casino & Hotel||San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians||16300 Nyemii Pass, Valley Center, CA 92082|
|Viejas Casino & Resort||Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians||5000 Willows Rd, Alpine, CA 91901|
|Wanaaha Casino||Bishop Paiute Tribe||2742 N Sierra Hwy, Bishop, CA 93514|
|Win-River Resort & Casino||Redding Rancheria||2100 Redding Rancheria Rd, Redding, CA 96001|
|Yaamava' Resort & Casino||San Manuel Band of Mission Indians||777 San Manuel Blvd, Highland, CA 92346|
Indian Casinos in Southern California
The majority of Southern California casinos operate in San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Imperial counties. Here are some of the best casino options in Southern California.
Yaamava’ Resort & Casino
Formerly San Manuel Casino, Yaamava’ Resort & Casino began long ago as a bingo casino and is now the largest casino in California. It features 7,000 Vegas-style slot machines, 150 table games (including pai gow, baccarat, video poker, blackjack, craps, and more), and 290,000 square feet of gaming space. It also has 17 restaurants and bars, as well as a hotel.
Address: 777 San Manual Blvd., Highland, CA 92346
Pechanga Resort Casino
Pechanga Resort Casino is the second-largest of the Indian casinos in California with 200,000 square feet and 5,400 slot machines. It additionally boasts 20 restaurants and bars, a casino hotel with over 1,000 rooms, and a 25,000-square-foot spa. It’s located in beautiful wine country southwest of Riverside County, so you can spend some of your winnings on premium wines.
Address: 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, CA 92592
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa is located just 20 minutes west of Palm Springs and recently underwent an expansion project that added 65,000 square feet of gaming space to the resort. It currently features 150,000 square feet in total, with 4,000 slot machines and a poker room that allows for 20 private tables for poker games such as Texas hold’em.
Address: 49750 Seminole Dr., Cabazon, CA 92230
Viejas Casino & Resort
This Four Diamond Casino and resort is only 29 miles east of San Diego and was renovated in 2018. It features a high-limit gaming area of 15,415 square feet, which also includes eight high-limit tables. Close to 2,500 slot machines are available at Viejas Casino & Resort, along with two hotels and a selection of restaurants and bars.
Address: 5000 Willows Rd., Alpine, CA 91901
Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa
Situated in the eastern part of Palm Springs, 61 miles east of Riverside, Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa offers guests 1,800 slot machines, 42 table games, a 10-table poker room, and a high-limit gaming section. It is one of three Southern California casinos owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. There is also a full-service spa open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
Address: 32-250 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
Sycuan Casino & Resort
This casino is just 20 minutes east of downtown San Diego. It features 2,300 slot machines, 53 table games, a 15-table poker room, and 90,000 square feet of gaming space to play casino games. There’s also a 300-room hotel, plus a spa, an adults-only pool, and various restaurant choices.
Address: 5469 Casino Way, El Cajon, CA 92019
Barona Resort & Casino
Another large San Diego-area casino, Barona Resort & Casino has a sprawling 340,000 square feet of gaming space — making it one of the most spacious of the Indian casinos in California. That huge gaming floor features 2,200 slot machines and 75 table games. One of 15 California casinos that allow 18-year-olds, Barona also has a 400-room hotel, six restaurants and a food court, and a golf course — Barona Creek Golf Club.
Address: 1932 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside, CA 92040
Chumash Casino Resort
Situated between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, and just 10 minutes from historic Solvang, Chumash Casino Resort offers 2,300 slot machines, 45 table games, 12-table poker room, and 115,000 square feet of gaming space. Beyond that, Chumash also features a 321-room, two-tower hotel with 17 luxury suites, as well as a rooftop pool at 1,400-seat entertainment venue.
Address: 3400 East Highway 246, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
Pala Casino Spa Resort
Address: 11154 CA-76, Pala, CA 92059
Just 12 miles south of Temecula and in the middle of some excellent wine country, Pala Casino Spa Resort features 2,000 slot machines, 61 gaming tables, and an 86,000 square-foot gaming floor. Beyond that, it also offers guests 13 restaurants and a food court, indoor and outdoor entertainment venues, 425 rooms and 82 suites, and a world-class spa.
Check out our Complete Guide to Gambling in Southern California.
Indian Casinos in Northern California
Most Northern California casinos operate in Placer County and Yolo County. Here are some of the best casino options in Northern California.
Thunder Valley Casino Resort
Thunder Valley Casino Resort is located just outside Sacramento. The iconic palm trees conjure up a feeling of summertime year-round. It features nearly 270,000 square feet with 3,400 slot machines and 110 gaming tables, all open 24 hours daily. Bingo and live poker are also available, plus a selection of top-tier restaurants and a 400-room casino hotel.
Address: 1200 Athens Ave., Lincoln, CA 95648
Cache Creek Casino Resort
Cache Creek Casino Resort, located in Brooks, California, features 2,300 slot machines, 120 table games, and 74,720 square feet of gaming space with everything from video poker to baccarat and more. There’s also a two-tower hotel with 649 rooms and a top-rated golf course.
Address: 14455 CA-16, Brooks, CA 95606
Blue Lake Casino Hotel
Located along the Redwood Coast, 20 minutes north of Eureka, Blue Lake Casino Hotel features more than 600 slots, as well as Play Station 777, an 18+ non-smoking section with more than 70 slot machines. The casino floor also features table games and a poker room that’s open Thursday-Saturday starting at 6 p.m. local time.
Address: 777 Casino Way, Blue Lake, CA 95525
Rolling Hills Casino and Resort
Situated 110 miles north of Sacramento and 40 miles east of the Mendocino National Forest, Rolling Hills Casino and Resort offers guests 840 slot machines (including video poker games and penny slots) and 12 table games, including The Stadium, an area dedicated to electronic table games. Beyond that, there’s an adjacent golf course called The Links at Rolling Hills and a two-tower hotel. It’s one of a handful of Indian casinos in California that boast award-winning golf courses.
Address: 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, CA 96021
Sky River Casino
California’s newest casino, Sky River Casino, just opened Aug. 16, 2022. It’s the first casino located in Sacramento County. It features 2,000 slot machines, 80 table games, a 12-table poker room, four restaurants, a spa, and a 12-story casino hotel. It boasts 110,260 square feet of gaming space.
Address: 1 Sky River Parkway, Elk Grove, CA 95758
Red Hawk Casino
Located about 30 miles east of Sacramento, Red Hawk Casino features 2,500 slot machines, 75 table games, and 88,000 square feet of gaming space. Currently under construction is a 120,000-square-foot hotel and an amusement center with indoor go-karting, bowling, and virtual reality gaming rooms. These projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
Address: 1 Red Hawk Boulevard, Placerville, CA 95667
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
Located about 30 miles from Fresno, this casino features 2,000 slot machines, 40 table games, and 73,000 square feet of gaming space. There’s also a 220-room hotel, 13,000-square-foot spa, and nine restaurants.
Address: 711 Lucky Lane, Coarsegold, CA 93614
Table Mountain Casino Resort
The brand new Table Mountain Casino Resort opened in July, just down the road from the old Table Mountain Casino. About 20 miles north of Fresno, this casino offers 600,000 square feet of total space, 110,000 of which is dedicated to gaming. There are 2,000 slots, 33 table games, a high-limit room, and a “Dragon’s Den” card room. There’s also a 171-room casino hotel and eight restaurants.
Address: 777 Jackpot Lane, Friant, CA 93626
Tachi Palace Casino Resort
This casino is owned by the Tachi Yokut Tribe, which is one of just three tribes that have publicly endorsed Prop 27 in California. Tachi Palace Casino Resort is located 38 miles south of Fresno and it has 2,000 slot machines, 21 table games, and 80,000 square feet of gaming space. It also offers a bingo hall for anyone 18 and older.
Address: 17225 Jersey Avenue, Lemoore, CA 93245
Graton Resort & Casino
Address: 288 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
This sprawling casino and resort 48 miles north of San Francisco offers guests 3,000 slots and 144 table games on a massive 317,750-square-foot gaming floor. Beyond that, it also features a 200-room hotel, four restaurants, three bars and lounges, a food court, a convention center, and a spa where you can spend some of your winnings.
Check out our Complete Guide to Gambling in Northern California.
Biggest Indian Casinos in California
This list looks at number of slot machines first. If those numbers are the same for multiple casinos, then we consider number of table games.
|1. Yaamava' Resort & Casino||7,000 slot machines, 150 table games, 290,000 square feet of gaming space||Highland|
|2. Pechanga Resort & Casino||5,400 slot machines, 152 table games, 200,000 square feet of gaming space||Temecula|
|3. Morongo Casino Resort & Spa||4,000 slot machines, 80 table games, 20-table poker room, 150,000 square feet of gaming space||Cabazon|
|4. Thunder Valley Casino Resort||3,400 slot machines, 110 gaming tables, 50-table poker room, 270,000 square feet of gaming space||Lincoln|
|5. Graton Resort & Casino||3,000 slot machines, 144 table games, 20-table poker room, 317,750 square feet of gaming space||Rohnert Park|
|6. Red Hawk Casino||2,500 slot machines, 75 table games, 88,000 square feet of gaming space||Placerville|
|7. Viejas Casino & Resort||2,500 slot machines, 50 table games, 133,000 square feet of gaming space||Alpine|
|8. Cache Creek Casino Resort||2,300 slot machines, 120 table games, 74,720 square feet of gaming space||Brooks|
|9. Sycuan Casino & Resort||2,300 slot machines, 53 table games, 15-table poker room, 90,000 square feet of gaming space||El Cajon|
|10. Chumash Casino Resort||2,300 slot machines, 45 table games, 12-table poker room, 115,000 square feet of gaming space||Santa Ynez|
What Games Are Offered at Indian Casinos in California?
California Indian casinos, despite being outside state jurisdiction, are still heavily regulated. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act divides all travel gambling operations into three distinct classes:
- Class I games are any social games that include prizes of minimal value or any traditional Indian games that are related to tribal celebrations and ceremonies.
- Class II games are games like bingo (electronic or otherwise), the lottery, any non-bank card games such as poker, and similar activities. These games all involve players that compete against one another rather than competing against the house.
- Class III games are any other types of gaming, which include slot machines, banked card games like blackjack, electronic games of chance, and so on. Notably, there are a few games that are illegal because of laws from the California Department of Justice. These exclusions include some types of dice games, craps, and roulette.
Class III gaming compacts are responsible for the type of California casinos you’re probably picturing — with aisles and aisles of slot machines and table games dotted throughout a bustling gaming floor with gamblers hoping for a payout.
Really, you can find any type of gambling activity you can think of at most Indian casinos in California. That includes slot machines, card games, table games, bingo, and plenty more games of chance.
And casinos are adding new games all the time. Win-River Resort & Casino in Redding, for instance, is adding three Jackpot Blitz electronic table games — dealerless electronic poker tables that can seat 10 players at a time.
Furthermore, some Indian casinos have private games or tournaments from time to time. It all depends on the exact casino’s offerings. For example, Morongo Casino Resort Spa includes several private poker tables that players can reserve ahead of time for serious or high-stakes games.
Beyond games, California casinos also add new restaurants, bars, and lounges to keep bettors’ experiences fresh. Harrah’s Resort Southern California in Valley Center, for example, just opened Gordon Ramsay’s first HELL’S KITCHEN restaurant in Southern California.
Why Are Indian Casinos Legal in California?
The legal history between Indian tribes and the US government dates back to 1787. According to the US Constitution, the federal government reserves the right to regulate commerce between states and Indian tribes.
In 1831-32, the US Supreme Court determined that tribes within the US are their own independent political entities. This means that Indian territory technically is under its own legal jurisdiction that operates outside of state jurisdiction. Naturally, this extends to casinos that are built on reservation property.
According to federal law, the California cannot regulate tribal gambling enterprises unilaterally and enter a congressional pact. This interpretation resulted in the passing of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, which provides a statutory structure for all tribal gambling operations.
Congress now allows Indian casinos to be built if they are ostensibly advancing three main goals: the economic development of a tribe, the self-sufficiency of a tribe, and the strengthening of a tribal government.
Though California initially banned most forms of gambling, some forms have been reauthorized over time. For example, in 1933, the state legalized horse race betting. In 1976, bingo games for charitable purposes became legal. Just a few years later, in 1984, California introduced the state lottery. As of today, however, brick-and-mortar casinos are still not legal on state soil.
But tribal soil isn’t the same thing. Currently, there are 66 casinos operated by 64 tribes. Indian casinos are now mostly concentrated in the San Diego and Riverside counties, containing 22. Some counties are still waiting for their first. Sacramento County, for instance, just had its first open in Sky River Casino.
In a nutshell, Indian casinos are legal in California because they technically aren’t on California soil.
Indian Gaming Revenue in California
All payments that Indian casinos make to state governments are dictated by “tribal-state” compacts. These are essentially agreements between the government of the state in which a sovereign Indian territory is located and the government of the tribe.
Tribes typically make payments to California government accounts based on the terms of those compacts. Most of the payments go toward special funds for dispersing grants to local towns that tribal casinos impact. For instance, this might include a town that needs to pay for frequent road renovation due to its proximity to a high-traffic tribal casino. Other grants may also be given to any native tribes that are not under the above compacts.
Casinos also deposit into accounts for the repaying of state transportation funds, especially for loans to the General Fund.
When it comes to revenue, most of the earnings from the casinos are exempt from federal, state, and local taxes. There are only a few exceptions. Whenever tribal members divide revenue evenly and distribute the earnings to members, for example, the federal government does get to take some taxes.
In addition, some large-scale casinos pay state taxes as part of their agreements with local governments. This normally only occurs if a casino drives significant traffic into the state and is otherwise a large part of a state’s economy. However, most casino revenue from gaming will go toward tribal government expenses and other charitable ventures.
California’s gaming tribes also share revenue with non-gaming and limited-gaming (350 or fewer slot machines at their casinos) tribes though the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund. Eligible tribes currently receive $1.1 million annually from the RSTF. It is not mandatory for all gaming tribes to chip into the RSTF.
Legal Gambling Developments in California
California sports betting won’t launch until 2025 at the earliest. And that’s only if voters approve a sports betting ballot measure in the 2024 election.
The vast majority of California’s tribes supported Prop 26, which would have allowed sports betting only in-person at tribal casinos and California horse racetracks. The opposing measure, Prop 27, which was backed by three CA tribes and mobile sportsbook operators, would have allowed online sports betting companies to partner with CA tribes to offer online sports betting.
Neither ballot measure passed in this election, pushing the discussion to 2024.
In terms of online casinos, there will not likely even be discussion of that until online sports betting is legalized first.
Future California Indian Casinos
As we mentioned earlier, there are already 66 casinos in California. But soon, there could be more than 70.
To our best knowledge as of November 2022, there were 10 tribes in California either currently building a new casino or planning to build one. Below we’ll break down the status of all those projects.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon
The Tejon Indian Tribe took a major step forward toward starting construction on its $600 million casino project when it received federal approval to break ground in November. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon will begin construction 15 miles south of Bakersfield, near Mettler, California. The plans call for 3,000 slot machines, which would make it California’s fifth-largest casino.
Timbisha Shoshone Casino
The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe is currently building its 20,000-square-foot casino in Ridgecrest. It will offer 349 slot machines and six table games, and a later construction phase will add a hotel. The casino is expected to be completed some time in late 2022 or 2023.
The Chico area will soon have a new casino. The Mechoopda Indian Tribe began construction on what it calls a “temporary casino” in May 2022. Then, the full casino (which doesn’t yet have a completion date) is set to offer 500 slot machines, 10 table games, 42,000 square feet of gaming space, and three restaurants. The tribe has partnered with Palace Hospitality, owned by the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi-Yokut Tribe, to run the casino.
The tribe expects the temporary casino to be finished by “late 2023,” a tribal spokesperson told California Casinos.
Ione Band Casino
The Ione Band of Miwok Indians received final approval for their casino in Amador County back in August 2020. Phase I of construction (costing $47 million) will build the casino, which will offer 1,200 slot machines, 40 table games, and four eateries. Phase II (costing $22 million) will build the 250-room hotel, 1,200-seat conference center, and pool.
Two tribes are working on plans for a casino in Barstow. The Chemehuevi Indian Tribe is a little further along, as it already owns a 40-acre plot of land in Barstow and had a new service agreement with Barstow approved in July 2021. The Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians also had an agreement with Barstow approved in October 2020, but the tribe doesn’t own any land in Barstow yet.
Neither tribe has reservation land in Barstow, so either casino would be considered an “off-reservation” casino. The Chemehuevi Indian Tribe already owns Havasu Landing Casino & Resort in Lake Havasu.
Cloverdale Rancheria Resort Casino
The Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians has plans to build a $320 million casino next to Cloverdale, California. It’s still relatively early in the process for this 596,000-square-foot facility with 2,000 slot machines, 45 table games, a 244-room hotel, and a 1,300-seat entertainment venue. The tribe still must negotiate a gaming compact with California Gov. Gavin Newsom and get approval from the state legislature and US Department of the Interior.
Shiloh Resort & Casino
The Koi Nation of Northern California is hoping the federal government approves its request to put a 68.8-acre parcel in Sonoma County in its trust. If that happens, the tribe can begin working on a tribal-state gaming compact for what it hopes will be a $600 million casino and resort project. The plan calls for a massive, 1.2 million-square-foot complex.
Five local tribes, as well as the Sonoma County Supervisors, oppose the project, saying Koi Nation doesn’t have as significant of a historic connection to the land as other tribes in the area.
Madera Hwy 99 Casino
Things have gone pretty quiet regarding the planned casino of the Northfork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, other than the tribe securing a liquor license for the Madera casino last October. A court ruling in 2020 gave the tribe the final approval needed to begin building the $400 million project, but a case filed in July 2021 postponed the groundbreaking. For now, this is a waiting game to see what the courts say.
The Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians got a major court win recently. On Sept. 30, the US District Court in Washington, D.C. ruled in favor of the tribe regarding its $700 million casino project, paving the way forward for the Vallejo Casino, which had been bogged down in legal proceedings since 2019.
The Department of the Interior, which originally denied the tribe’s claim to the land to be used for the casino in 2019, will no review the application again — and, given the US District Court ruling telling the DOI to re-review, chances are high that it will be approved this time around.
Indian Casinos in California FAQs
The legal gambling age in California is 18. But the minimum drinking age is 21, and the majority of Indian casinos in California serve alcohol. For this season, many of those casinos simply set their gambling age limit to 21, as well, to avoid legal trouble if an underage drinker consumes alcohol on the casino gaming floor. Not all casinos do this, however. There are 15 casinos in California that allow 18-year-olds.
Yes, in varying ways. Class I games (traditional tribal, celebratory games for low cash prizes) are regulated by California’s tribes. Class II games (bingo and other games where patrons play against each other, not the house) are regulated by both the tribes and the National Indian Gaming Commission. Class III games (casino-style gaming, such as slot machines and table games like video poker and baccarat) are regulated via US Department of the Interior-approved tribal-state compacts. The California Gambling Control Commission and the Bureau of Gambling Control in the Department of Justice also play a regulatory role with Class III gaming.
The NIGC can theoretically regulate and audit various tribal Class III operations. However, a 2006 appeals court decision highlighted some legal wiggle room.
No. Both California sports betting initiatives, Prop 26 and Prop 27, failed in the November 2022 election. Prop 26 would have legalized in-person sports betting at California tribal casinos and the state’s four licensed horse racetracks.
Yes. No matter which California casino you go to, there is little doubt you’ll be able to join a rewards program and take advantage of casino promotions. It’s one of the best methods for these casinos to build customer loyalty and brand recognition. And the rewards programs are usually, well, rewarding. They include promotions like sign-up bonuses, as well as discounts and the casino or the resort.
No. As of November 2022, real-money online casino gambling is illegal in California. There is no sign of that changing soon. But Californians can still win cash prizes playing online casino games through promotional sweepstakes sites, such as Chumba Casino. These sites have players play with fake digital currency that can later be redeemed for real cash prizes.
Promotional sweepstakes casinos are 100% legal in California and 47 other US states. They are safe to use as an online gaming option and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority.
If sports betting is legalized, it feels like only a matter of time until California online casinos are legalized.
As of November 2022, there were 66 casinos in California owned by 64 federally recognized tribes, which makes for a booming gaming industry. The newest casino is Sky River Casino, which opened Aug. 16 in Elk Grove, just outside Sacramento. It is the fourth-largest casino in Northern California, in terms of number of slot machines offered.
The California Gambling Control Commission lists 67 Indian casinos. However, Shokawah Casino was permanently closed in 2019 due to wildfires.
Yaamava Resort & Casino, formerly San Manuel Casino, is the largest casino in California and on the West Coast. It boasts 7,000 slot machines, 150 table games, and a 290,000-square-foot gaming floor.