How to Bet on Sports in California

Sports betting in California is currently in a state of limbo, as legalization attempts in 2022 went bust. However, the momentum to legalize sports betting is still going strong. It’s up to the tribes, lobby groups, and government stakeholders to come together to find a legislative solution that works for everyone. If they can get on the same page, we may see sports betting in California from 2024 onward.

California is a sports-crazed state, with nearly 20 professional sports clubs calling it home. From the LA Lakers to the San Francisco Giants, there’s no shortage of teams to root for. 

Our sports betting for beginners guide is your go-to resource for sports betting in California. With comprehensive information on betting odds and different types of bets, and tips for high-profile events such as the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and World Series, you’ll be well-prepared when the law changes.

Best Sportsbook for Basketball Betting in California

Until California jumps on the sports betting bandwagon, basketball fans can turn to sweepstakes sportsbooks like Fliff to get in on the action. The site operates using a dual virtual currency system instead of real cash. 

>> Try Fliff Social Sportsbook to claim 100% up to $100 Fliff Cash + 600,000 Fliff Coins on Deposit

With Fliff Coins and Fliff Cash, you can bet on mainstream sports like basketball, MMA, tennis, and soccer. The sportsbook also has in-depth coverage of NBA games and runs free-to-play contests that allow you to make picks on local California teams. It’s a good way to get your feet wet and learn how to bet on sports in California without breaking the bank. 

Where Can You Bet in California?

It appears that legal sports betting in California is still some time away, but there’s no need to throw in the towel just yet. For those wondering how to bet in California, sweepstakes sportsbooks like Fliff are the solution. Fliff offers a proprietary currency system with no real money use, which makes it legal to play in.

It has odds on major sports like the NFL and a diverse betting program for marquee events like the Super Bowl or World Series. Whether you want to bet on the LA Rams, the Chargers, or the SF 49ers or try your luck on superstars like Aaron Donald, you’ll get a full-court press of wagers to choose from. 

Online Sportsbooks 

The road to legalizing online sports betting in California has been a bumpy one. In 2022, Prop 27 was introduced as a ballot measure to legalize statewide online sports betting in California. The proposition was backed by major online gambling brands like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM, and it aimed to regulate online sports betting.

To gain market access, eligible online sportsbooks were supposed to affiliate with a California tribe, and licensed operators were required to pay 10% of their gaming revenue to the state.

Despite the support from major brands in the industry, Prop 27 failed to gain traction among voters, with 82.3% voting against the measure. This defeat dealt a major blow to the prospects of legalizing online sports betting in California.

If you want to know how to bet online in California without running afoul of the law, Fliff Social Sportsbook is the only viable option right now. You can also use DFS apps in California, like DraftKings DFS and FanDuel DFS. It’s not the same as the real thing, but it should be close enough to satisfy your sports betting cravings. 

Retail Sportsbooks 

Despite the popularity of in-person betting at tribal casinos and California’s iconic horse racetracks, retail sports betting in California remains a no-go. Prop 26 was the initiative that could have made this dream a reality, but unfortunately, it was met with a resounding rejection from 67% of voters at the 2022 referendum.

The measure was supposed to allow in-person betting on sports at retail sportsbooks — tribal casinos and the state’s four horse racetracks, like Del Mar and Santa Anita Park. But we’ll have to wait a bit longer before retail sports betting becomes a reality in the Golden State. 

Popular basketball NBA bets 

With its alley-oops and buzzer-beaters, the NBA is an absolute crowd-pleaser for basketball fans — and with some cash on the line, the excitement ramps up. 

As basketball fans gear up for the upcoming NBA playoffs, sportsbooks are already taking bets on who will come out on top. Whether you’re rooting for the Lakers or Clippers, there’s always a chance to make a slam dunk with your bets.

You can place bets well in advance, as most futures markets are released in the lead-up to the season. As for individual games, the odds and lines are usually posted a day before the tipoff. In-game betting is also an option at CA sportsbook, allowing you to place wagers as the game unfolds. 

The 2022 NBA Finals were one for the books, with the Golden State Warriors taking home the Larry O’Brien trophy after an impressive performance against the Boston Celtics. Sportsbooks were all over the Finals, offering a variety of specials and promotions, including some “no-brainers” that any basketball fan could have made.

This year, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Clippers are among the top contenders to win the title, and you can bet on their games or futures if you think they might win it all. From spread betting to prop bets on individual players, there’s no shortage of ways to get some skin in the game.

Don’t sleep on the underdogs, though. With the NBA, anything can happen, and there are always surprises in store. And with the Western Conference being as competitive as ever, there’s potentially a lot of value to be won from the underdog bracket. 

What Kind of Bets Can Be Placed at California Sportsbooks? 

If we’re talking hoops and bets, the NBA is extensively covered by the best online betting apps in California. Here are the most common types of NBA bets:

  • Moneyline bets: This is a straight-up bet on which team will win the ballgame and a part of the starter pack in every sports betting for dummies guide. For example, if you think the Los Angeles Lakers will beat the Golden State Warriors, this is the bet for you.
  • Spread bets: This is a wager on the margin of victory in a sports event. For example, if the Lakers are favored to win by 5 points, they must win by 6 or more points to cover the spread.
  • Total bets: You can opt for this type of bet if you want to predict whether the total score of an NBA game will be over or under a certain number.
  • Parlays: This is a multi-wager that combines two or more individual bets. For example, you might bet on both the Lakers and the Warriors to win. If both selections hit, you can win big. 
  • Teasers: A teaser allows you to adjust the point spread or total to your advantage in exchange for a slightly reduced payout.

What Is a Futures bet? 

By definition, a futures bet is a wager on an event that will happen down the road. When it comes to the NBA, the futures market is replete with options. Besides the NBA Championship winner, you can bet on the conference winner, division winner, or who will make the playoffs. You will also get to place bets on individual player awards — the MVP,  the Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, and so forth. 

The odds for futures bets are usually posted before the regular season kicks off, giving you plenty of time to do your research and make an informed decision.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the odds can change as the season progresses and new information becomes available. So, if Lebron James were to suffer a season-ending injury, this would obviously affect the Lakers’ championship odds. 

How To Place Prop Bets

The term “proposition bet” is probably familiar to you if you’ve been looking into sports betting. If you’ve been wondering, “What is a prop bet?” allow us to explain. These are exotic wagers on specific events within a game or season. In the NFL, prop bets can range from who will score the first touchdown to how many total yards a player will gain. 

For example, in Super Bowl LVII, some popular prop bets included the length of the national anthem and the color of Gatorade dumped on the winning coach. So, anyone who picked purple Gatorade to be dumped on Andy Reid after the Chiefs’ title win cashed in at odds of around +800.

California teams like the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams offer plenty of opportunities for prop bets throughout the season — for instance, a prop bet on the 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s total passing yards in a specific game or a Rams’ defensive tackle’s total tackles.

How Are MLB Betting Odds Calculated? 

Since moneyline bets are the easiest to understand, we will use them as an example for explaining MLB odds. Let’s say the San Francisco Giants are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the moneyline odds are as follows:

  • San Francisco Giants: -150
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: +130

Positive moneyline odds indicate the underdog in a game, meaning a bettor will earn more than their initial wager if they win the bet. Negative moneyline odds are found next to the favorite. However, if you win this bet, you will make a profit that is lower than your initial stake.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. If you bet $100 on the SF Giants, and they win the game, you will win $166.67 ($100 original bet + $66.67 profit). However, if you bet on the LA Dodgers and they prevail, you’ll receive a payout of $230 ($100 original bet + $130 profit).

Sportsbooks employ oddsmakers to set the odds for any market, including MLB. They use a variety of methods, such as computer algorithms and power rankings, to determine the lines, taking into account many factors, like injuries, weather, and home-field advantage. 

The lines are then adjusted based on where the money is going to ensure that the betting volume is evenly distributed on both sides of the line. The books take a small cut for every bet (around 10%). This is called a vig or juice. As a result, the sportsbook can earn a profit regardless of the outcome of the game.

MLB betting shares many similarities with other sports, but one major difference is the terminology used for the wagers. For instance, the run line is equivalent to the point spread in the NBA and NFL.

How To Bet on Sports in California

Even though sports betting is still illegal in California, we’ll give you a sneak peek into how it works so you’ll be ready when top sports betting apps like DraftKings enter the market or when you decide to visit sweepstakes books like Fliff.

  1. Download the Fliff app from the App Store or Google Play Store. 
  2. Register for an account with your deets. You’ll need to provide login credentials and personal information like the last four digits of your SSN.
  3. Deposit funds. You’ll have several payment solutions available — notably, credit/debit cards, ACH, bank wire, and PayPal.
  4. Browse the betting menu and find a sport you want to bet on.
  5. Select the type of bet you want to make, whether it’s a moneyline, spread, or prop bet. 
  6. Enter the amount you want to wager and confirm the bet. Choose whether to place a parlay, round robin, or teaser if you have multiple selections.
  7. Kick back, grab a cold one, and wait for the outcome. If you hit the nail on the head with your picks, you’ll be able to collect your winnings pretty quickly. 

How to Bet on Sports in California FAQs

Is it legal to bet on sports in California?

No, sports betting is currently illegal in California. Although there have been efforts to legalize sports betting in this state, it’s still off-limits. The state legislature would need to pass a bill legalizing sports betting, and the governor would need to sign it into law.

While sports betting is not legal in California, there are some options. Fliff is a social sportsbook app that betting enthusiasts will want to try, and it’s legal in CA.

What is a moneyline bet?

A moneyline is betting on which team will win or lose. Learn more about bet types in our guide if you’re a beginner and want to get started.

What does +200 mean on a bet?

+200 represents the amount of money a bettor will make if they bet $100. So a winning bet would payout $300 – the initial $100 wager plus $200.

What is a good amount to bet on sports?

If you’re just learning how to bet, plan to start small. Some sportsbook operators offer welcome bonuses that you can claim by betting as little as $5. Regardless of your level of experience and comfort with sports betting, you should always practice responsible gaming.

Do all sportsbooks offer NBA betting in California?

Yes, all sportsbooks in the country offer NBA betting, and they also have odds on other major sports. With Fliff Social Sportsbook, you can bet on every NBA game during the regular season and the playoffs.

Where can California residents bet on sports?

California residents can bet on sports using sweepstakes-based sportsbooks like Fliff. These sites don’t use real money but rather a virtual currency, which is why they’re legal in the Golden State.

Is in-game betting available in California?

No, live, in-game betting is not currently available in California. This form of betting allows sports bettors to place wagers during the course of a game but is not yet legal in California. However, if sports betting is legalized in the state in the future, live, in-game betting will be an option.

How popular is sports betting in California?

Sports betting is very popular in California, but it’s still illegal in the state. However, there are still ways to bet, notably via sweepstakes-based sportsbooks like Fliff.

About the Author

Jessica Andrews

Jessica Andrews is the Executive Editor of She has worked as a professional writer and editor for several years and was Public Affairs Director for the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce in Southern California. She roots for the Boston Red Sox and Vegas Golden Knights.