Does California Allow Slot Machines

  1. Does California Allow Slot Machines Play
  2. Does California Allow Slot Machines Work
  3. Does California Allow Slot Machines Work

In California, you can enjoy most types of gambling to some extent, even though most forms of gambling are illegal within its borders. Currently, slot games are illegal in California but can be found at tribal casinos, which operate on reservation land and are not beholden to CA law.

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Below we present a breakdown of what types of slot games you can find in California and how they differ from Las Vegas’ slot game offerings.

Vegas-Style Slots Versus California Slots

You can find tons of slot games to play in California, even for real money. But while playing slot machines and wagering real money is totally legal in Vegas, the same isn’t true for the Golden State.


Gambling for money is largely illegal in California, except for horse racing and daily fantasy sports. Indian casinos get around this legal restriction since they operate on sovereign Indian ground. Therefore, you can play slots in California so long as they are within a legally operating tribal casino establishment.

Similarities And Differences

Virtually all forms of gambling are legal in Las Vegas, whether for money, digital sweeps coins, or other types of currency. In Las Vegas, you can find all types of slot machines and games in the variety of casinos there. In California, slot games are limited to Indian casinos.

However, this isn’t to say that you won’t find plenty of variety at those Indian casinos. Indeed, many of the largest tribal casinos have thousands of slot machines and tons of variety for slot game enthusiasts to enjoy. For instance, Pechanga Resort Casino is the largest in the entire state and features 4,500 slot machines in total across 188,000 ft.² of gaming space.

There is a shared similarity between California and Las Vegas slots. In most cases, you need to be 21-years-old to play slots. Although the legal gambling age in California is 18-years-old, tribal casinos can set their own legal gambling age. Most of them err on the side of caution and set this to 21-years-old instead of 18-years-old since they serve alcohol on their open gambling floors.

They do this so they don’t accidentally serve alcohol to any underage gamblers. There are only a few tribal casinos in California that allow 18-years-olds to enter.

Largest Northern California Slots Casinos In California

These are the two largest and most slot-intensive casinos in Northern California:

Cache Creek Casino

This newly-reopened tribal casino has a fantastic hotel coming in late 2021. At this time, it’s open 24 hours a day and features almost a 75,000 ft.² space with 2,400 slot machines. Over 300 of these machines are in a non-smoking area. There’s also 122 table games and a high-stakes table area that includes blackjack and baccarat.

You’ll be able to find most of the slots on the main casino floor, separated by a central area featuring table games. There’s also a high limit slots area on the north end of the casino. This is a perfect place if you enjoy slots with more on the line.

Regardless of the titles you choose, you’ll be able to join the casino’s club and benefit from tons of bonuses and high payback limits. The more you play, the more rewards you’ll earn as you spend time at this casino. It’s a great staple gaming establishment if you like to head to the slots every weekend as a hobby.

Thunder Valley Casino Resort

This Northern California tribal casino is located just outside Sacramento. The casino currently features nearly 145,000 ft.² of gaming space and is open 24 hours a day, with 2,800 slot machines and over 130 live poker and gaming tables. There’s also a 500-seat bingo area if you’re interested.

The slots you can find range from classic reel favorites, like Quick Hits, to newer slot games like Willy Wonka’s Munchkinland. The variety of slot machines is truly staggering and slot game enthusiasts will find a lot to like as they tour the expansive space. New and exciting slot machines are usually added to a dedicated spot in Thunder Valley’s Pano Hall. This way, you don’t have to hunt for new games if you check out this casino frequently.

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Slot game bets range from one cent up to $100 depending on your preference. There’s also a smoke-free slots room, plus a bonus strike jackpot system that all players can partake in. Players can enjoy extra rewards like chances for bonus jackpots if they sign up for a Thunder Rewards Card.

Here are all the tribal slots casinos operating currently in Northern California:

  • Bear River Casino
  • Black Oak Casino
  • Cache Creek Casino
  • Cer-Ae Heights Bingo and Casino
  • Chicken Ranch Casino
  • Chuckchansi Gold Resort & Casino
  • Colusa Casino Resort
  • Coyote Valley Casino
  • Desert Rose Casino
  • Diamond Mountain Casino
  • Eagle Mountain Casino
  • Elk Valley Casino
  • Feather Falls Casino and Lodge
  • Garcia River Casino
  • Gold Country Casino
  • Graton Resort & Casino
  • Hard Rock Fire Mountain Casino
  • Harrah’s Northern California Casino
  • Hidden Oaks Casino
  • Hopland So-Ka-Wah Casino & Bingo
  • Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort
  • Konocti Vista Casino Resort, Marina & RV Park
  • Lucky 7 Casino
  • Lucky Bear Casino
  • Mechoopda Casino Project
  • Mono Wind Casino
  • North Fork Rancheria Resort Hotel & Casino
  • Paiute Palace Casino
  • Pit River Casino
  • Playstation 777
  • Rain Rock Casino
  • Red Fox Casino & Bingo
  • Red Hawk Casino
  • Redwood Hotel Casino
  • River Rock Casino
  • Robinson Rancheria Resort & Casino
  • Rolling Hills Casino
  • Running Creek Casino
  • San Pablo Lytton Casino
  • Sherwood Valley Casino
  • Table Mountain Casino
  • Tachi Palace Casino Resort
  • Thunder Valley Casino
  • Twin Pine Casino
  • Win-River Casino
  • Winnedumah Winn’s Casino

Largest Southern California Slots Casinos In California

Does California Allow Slot Machines Play

Here are the two largest Southern California slots casinos:

Pechanga Resort Casino

This is the largest of all California casinos, totaling 188,000 ft.² of gaming space and 4,500 slot machines, along with tons of table games and other entertainment activities and venues. It’s located in Riverside County, so it’s also very close to wine country. It’s a phenomenal casino since it’s open 24 hours a day and features an expansive slot floor.

Even better, the slot floor has been reworked since the COVID-19 pandemic. Games are now spaced about a machine’s width away to ensure appropriate physical distancing. Classic favorites and newer slot games alike can be found pretty easily, including state-of-the-art reel games, keno games, video poker games, video reels, and more.

The casino makes use of a ticketing system so you can enjoy all the games you like before turning in your total winnings. Slot machine enthusiasts will also really appreciate that this casino constantly updates their game selection, bringing in new titles every few months and filtering out old, lesser played games in order to make space.

Ultimately, it’s a slot player’s dream location, with something new almost every time you pay a visit.

San Manuel Casino

This casino has also recently reopened after its COVID-19 closure. Originally a bingo-only casino, San Manuel Casino now hosts 4,800 slot machines and 120,000 ft.². It’s open 24 hours a day and features many additional table games and a poker room.

Like Pechanga, the casino has redesigned its gaming floor to ensure appropriate social distancing. There are two stories across which you can find slot games, including video reels, video keno, progressive jackpots, mystery jackpots, and more. 120 video poker machines are also scattered throughout the space. You’ll be able to find slot games that range from penny slots to high limit slots depending on how risky you are feeling on a given day.

New slot machines are added pretty frequently, so the floor is almost always shifting and changing from season to season. You can find classics and new and noteworthy slot machines at this time, with new and innovative titles on the way.

Here is our round-up of slots casinos in Southern California:

  • Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage
  • Augustine Casino
  • Barona Resort & Casino
  • Barstow Casino and Resort Project
  • Cahuilla Casino
  • Casino Pauma
  • Fantasy Springs Casino
  • Golden Acorn Casino
  • Havasu Landing Resort & Casino
  • Jamul Casino
  • La Jolla Trading Post & Casino
  • Morongo Travel Center
  • Pala Casino Spa Resort
  • Pechanga Resort & Casino
  • Quechan Casino Resort
  • Red Earth Casino
  • San Manuel Casino
  • Soboba Casino
  • Spotlight 29 Casino
  • Tortoise Rock Casino
  • Valley View Casino
  • Viejas Casino

California Slots Casinos FAQ

Do you still need to pay taxes on earnings from tribal CA casinos?

Yes. Even though you technically earn that money on tribal grounds, you’ll still need to pay taxes on it at the end of the year.

The National Indian Gaming Commission is responsible for most casino regulation, except for a few high-stakes games and tournaments.

Mostly because California’s Native American tribes have made it difficult to pass pro-gambling legislation in the state senate, as it represents a big source of income for the tribes.

No. You can play Chumba Casino, LuckyLandSlots, and other sweepstakes slot sites, as these have you compete for digital currencies instead of real money.

Will slots become legal in California in the near future?

Not likely anytime soon. Sports betting and other types of gambling legislation are more likely than slots gambling to come to fruition in the coming years.

CASINOS: Sovereignty keeps financial reports from state, public

November 24, 20033


© The Press Democrat

Patrons at California Indian casinos are pouring about $130 million a day into 52,600 slot machines. How much they are reaping in return and whether the payoff is better across the state line in Nevada is one of the central issues in the competition for the gambling dollar.

Nevada pays almost 95 cents of every dollar dropped into slots back to players, and it must account for every nickel in reports to the state. California has no such records, leaving gamblers at the state's 54 tribal casinos guessing and state policy-makers in the dark.

Indian casinos are located on sovereign territory, with most rules and enforcement handled by the tribes themselves. Their financial reports go to a federal agency, which doesn't share the details with the state or the public.

Tribal leaders say their casinos pay out as much as Nevada's. A Nevada gaming expert maintains the return is probably lower, but there is no independent verification for any claim.

Does California Allow Slot Machines

'There's no way to know,' said Bill Thompson, gaming expert and professor of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Millions of gambler dollars are at stake because slots, from nickel-a-pull games to progressive machines with multimillion-dollar jackpots, account for the bulk of casino gaming revenues: 67 percent in Nevada; 80 percent to 90 percent in California.

Some Nevada gaming analysts say their state's 185,000 slots are more generous -- 'looser' in gaming parlance -- than California's, contending that stiff competition drives Nevada's odds in the player's favor.

Nevada casinos advertise as much as a 97 percent payback, with some machines set above 100 percent, Thompson said. Casinos advertise the rates to draw customers, and the 100 percent machines are scattered on the casino floor.

Nevada's Gaming Control Board polices casino advertising and constantly checks slot machine performance, said Joanie Jacka, administrative coordinator for the agency.

The state won't allow anyone to claim the 'loosest machines in town,' Jacka said, because individual casino payback rates aren't made public. Nevada reports slot payback by area, such as Las Vegas, Reno and Tahoe, and by type of machine, from 5 cent to $100 games. 'Our machines pay the most of any in the United States,' Thompson said.

Atlantic City slots return 91 percent to 92 percent to players, and New Jersey doesn't allow casinos to advertise their odds, he said.

In contrast, California's 54 casinos enjoy what Thompson calls a 'local monopoly,' sheltering them from competition and allowing a slot machine payback he estimates at 85 percent.

A tribal casino executive says there's no way the payoff could be poorer in the Golden State. 'You'd have a big empty room,' said Anthony Miranda, who runs the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Riverside County, one of California's largest gaming halls.

Tribal casinos pay back an average of 95 percent to 96 percent, keeping only 4 percent or 5 percent and depending on high volume, meaning heavy play at the machines, to make a profit, Miranda said.

'If we had 80 percent payout games, our customers would be flocking to Nevada,' he said. Miranda declined to cite Pechanga's payback, but said it was 'comparable to Nevada.'

A computer chip in every machine controls the payback rate. In Nevada, state officials test the machines before and after they are placed on a casino floor, assuring they meet the state's 75 percent minimum payback. Competition forces casinos to sweeten the pot considerably.

The payback varies, from 93.8 percent last year on the Las Vegas Strip to 95.35 percent in Sparks, one of the best rates in the state, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board reports. Reno casinos paid back 95.02 percent; South Shore Lake Tahoe, 94.23 percent; and North Shore, 94.62 percent.

Payback rate improves with the stakes: Nevada's nickel slots returned 92 percent to players, while $25 machines paid back 96.7 percent.

Patrons dropped $115 billion into Nevada slots last year, and the casinos kept $6.3 billion, about 5.5 percent. Keeping another 1 percent of the total would have added more than $1 billion to the casinos' coffers.

California tribal casinos do not make public how much they are making and paying back from slot machines, but state officials and other experts say slot machines earn casinos $250 a day, or $13 million a day statewide. If that represents 10 percent of the money put in by players, assuming a 90 percent payback, then $130 million a day -- $47.5 billion a year -- is pouring into the machines.

Tribal casinos submit annual independent audits, including slot machine payout, to the National Indian Gaming Commission, a federal regulatory agency.

Does California Allow Slot Machines Work

The agency doesn't share the financial data with states, said Greg Bergfeld, who works in the national commission's Sacramento office.

California casinos' slot payback rate is 'very competitive with Nevada,' he said.

'There is no verification,' said Cheryl Schmit, director of Stand Up for California, a gambling watchdog group.

The only statistics released by the national commission are tribal gaming revenues by region, including one region that essentially covers California. Gaming revenue for fiscal year 2002 in California was $3.6 billion, up 24 percent, or more than $700 million, from the previous year, according to the national commission.

Critics say the tribes are too conservative in calculating their revenues. The state says tribal gaming revenue is $5 billion to $6 billion a year.

River Rock Casino, which opened amid controversy last fall in Alexander Valley, offers a payback 'similar to those in Nevada,' said spokesman Dave Reiseman. He didn't cite a specific figure.

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Inside the domed, tent-topped casino, bright lights flash, chimes ring and drums spin on 1,600 slot machines with names like 'Blazing 7,' 'Movie Star' and 'Winning for Dummies.' A 25-cent slot lists a $1,198 jackpot, while the $1-a-play progressive slot 'Megabucks' shows a jackpot of $7.8 million and counting upward right before players' eyes.

Two players said they think Nevada offers better odds.

'I think they pay better in Nevada,' said Pedro Fernandez of Santa Rosa, who said he puts about $50 in the slots on his visits to River Rock.

James King of Santa Rosa said he has 'done pretty well' at River Rock, including a recent $1,700 jackpot. But he used to go to Reno once a month 'and it always seems I did a little better there.'

Even if River Rock slots are less generous, King said there's a big difference in time and money between a four-hour, 170-mile drive over the Sierra to Reno and a 20-minute trip to Alexander Valley.

Convenience is a significant economic factor, which may erase the difference in slot payback between distant Nevada and casinos near a Californian's home, Thompson said.

No matter how high the payback, there's no guarantee a player will profit from pumping money into a machine. By continued playing -- a process known in gambling parlance as 'the grind' -- machines will usually take it all.

If the experience lasts long enough, it may not matter. 'People tend to put in all their money anyway -- they're just buying time,' Thompson said.

Does California Allow Slot Machines Work

King said that when he hit the $1,700 jackpot, he left while he still had $1,200. 'In the long run you always end up losing more than you win,' he said.