Gambling in San Francisco, CA

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Gambling in San Francisco, CA

Author: AmericanGambler1234 | Last Updated: June 20, 2019

San Francisco is one of the most diverse and electric cities in the United States. The city has become one of the central hubs for massive technology companies to set up shop and grow in. While residents can find high paying jobs in San Francisco, the city also features some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and the cost of living is pretty high.

The sports teams that make up this great city has a rich history of success and legendary performances. Some of the most popular and respected teams have come from San Francisco sports and dynasties have been born here. Until recently, no one has ever held as many super bowl championships as San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Joe Montana, and the Golden State Warriors are an absolute powerhouse in the NBA.

In the article below, we will take an in-depth look at everything you need to know about sports, sports betting, casinos, and online gambling in the city of San Francisco. We will look at all the teams that reside here, the horse racing tracks, the laws around sports betting, and the current state of online gambling. So, if you live in San Francisco or stop in for a visit, you can be prepared to place bets and gamble without having to worry about getting into any trouble! Let's get started.

San Francisco Online Gambling Legislation Overview

As with any city, we first need to take a look at what is legal and what is not. We will look at all the options for gambling, sports betting, lottery, horse racing, and everything else that you can and can't do in the city of San Francisco.

What is Legal

First, we are going to look at what is legal to do in San Francisco. Everything in this next section is free and clear and will not expose you to any fines. So, let's take a look!

Charitable Gambling

Charitable gaming in San Francisco, such as bingo or charity poker, is legal in the state of California. However, rules and limitations have been put in place to monitor and manage the games. If you plan to hold bingo events, you should first look at the rules below to make sure you are compliant.

  • You must first obtain a license from the city of San Francisco.
  • Bingo events cannot be held outside of noon and midnight.
  • Alcohol is not allowed during bingo games.
  • Bingo Prizes must remain under $250.

Horse and Dog Racing

As of now, the only form of legal, real-money sports gambling in California is horse racing. The main provider of horse racing in San Francisco, as well as California,  is TVG. The California Horse Racing Board is in charge of horse racing, which is also fully legal in the city. For San Francisco residents, the best place to hit the race track and watch the horses is the Golden Gates Fields located right along the coastline.

Land-Based Casinos in San Francisco, CA

  • RedHawk Casino
  • Artichoke Joe’s Casino
  • Lucky Chances Casino
  • San Pablo Lytton Casino
  • Oaks Card Club
  • Fair Downs Off Track Betting

While card rooms are legal in San Francisco, land-based casino gambling is permitted exclusively for the Native American Tribal Casinos. For residents of the city, there are a good number of card rooms and casino gaming locations within driving range such as:

Lottery Betting

Like most states, California does have a state lottery, including all of the most popular games like scratch-off tickets, Mega-Millions, and PowerBall. In order to play the lottery, you must be 18 years or older.

Poker Rooms

Poker rooms, or card clubs, are legal in San Francisco and many options exist for the residents of the city. With the only options for casino gambling residing on tribal lands and only permitted for Native American Indian Tribes, card rooms are a great alternative for the residents to hit the card tables and get in a few hands. These facilities often refer to themselves as casinos.

Off-Track Betting

Off-Track racing is legal in the state of California and is currently the only option available for those who wish to place “sports bets” online. While the city of San Francisco has the Golden Gate Fields, a racetrack located right on the shoreline, residents can enjoy placing bets on the horses without having to physically go to the track.

What is Not Legal

Now that we have covered what is legal, let's take a look at what will absolutely get you into trouble. While the state of California does provide you with great options for wagering, the state does have some limitations that you need to look out for. Let's dive in.

Online Gambling

So, the online gambling laws in California can be a bit confusing. Technically, there are no laws stating that you cannot gamble online. If you log into a website and start placing or playing online games, you are not breaking any laws and run no risk of getting into trouble with the law. However, it is illegal in California to own or operate an online gambling or sports betting website. So, this means that for anyone looking to place bets or gamble, it must be done using an offshore website.

Sports Betting

Sports betting at any physical location in California is illegal. It is also illegal to own or operate any sports betting operations within the state. Along with sports betting, online poker rooms are also illegal in California. While no one has actually been charged with any crimes for playing poker online, those are the rules. The state will likely see a shift in their laws within the next year, and sports betting will likely be a big part of that. With hundreds of millions of dollars getting pumped into the black market and offshore sites, no one wants to miss out on the action generated by sports betting.

San Francisco Sports Betting Options

As we stated above, laws for sports betting in San Francisco are expecting a highly welcomed change, and sports betting will likely be legalized within the next one or two years. Until then, however, the only options for making sports bets in the entire state of California are with offshore websites.

With that being said, some possible locations for sportsbooks in San Francisco once the law has been passed are the casinos and card rooms that make up the city. In the section below, we will go over some of the best locations to play casino games and get a couple of rounds of poker in around the bay area.

San Francisco Sportsbooks and Gambling Locations

RedHawk Casino

The Red Hawk Casino was founded by the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and located between San Francisco and Sacramento. It sits on a beautiful hilltop and features some of the most incredible views California has to offer. The casino is a gambler's dream and has a wide variety of options for all types of gamers. The Red Hawk includes poker games, table games, slot machines, and video poker. The casino also has an app that can be downloaded for rewards and bonuses to make for an even better gaming experience. When visiting the Red Hawk Casino, there are things to do for all members of the family including the kids! Enjoy some of the restaurants and other amenities that are available when you visit the Red Hawk Casino.

Artichoke Joes Casino

Today, Artichoke Joes Casino is a card club located in the San Bruno area of California. But, the card room was founded in 1916 by Joseph Sammut as a pool parlor and phone exchange. The name changed to Artichoke Joes in 1921 and has been operating ever since. Artichoke Joes has never left the family and is operated by Dennis Sammut to this day. The games offered at Artichoke Joes Casino are as follows:

  • 21st Century Baccarat 8.2
  • Cal Blackjack
  • Pai Gow Poker
  • Pai Gow Tiles
  • Texas Hold ‘Em
  • Seven Card Stud
  • Omaha Hi-Lo Split
  • Three Card Poker

Lucky Chances Casino

Lucky Chances is the newest card room to the bay area and opened up shop in 1998. Since then, Lucky chances has been offering its customers over 60 tables of card games and provides a friendly atmosphere and over 650 employees. Lucky Chances has plenty of options for dining as well as other amenities and has plenty of games available for cards. Some of the games available are as follows:

  • Texas Hold ‘Em
  • Omaha Hi/Lo
  • Seven Card StudPai Gow
  • Double Hand Poker
  • Baccarat
  • Three Card Poker
  • Pure 21.5 Blackjack

San Pablo Lytton Casino

The San Pablo Lytton Casino is located on tribal lands and operated by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians. The casino shares it's revenue with the city of San Pablo and forms the backbone of the cities economic structure. In fact, the manager of the casino has famously stated that you can “Walk into the casino any day of the week and walk out a millionaire.” The Casino is open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, offering great options for dining and gaming. There are over 1,500 gaming machines on the casino floor with all of the popular names such as:

  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Quick Hit
  • Black Diamond

If cards are your game, the casino has plenty of options and offers a $50,000 jackpot on their Pai Gow, Double Hand Poker, and Texas Hold ‘Em games. Don't miss any sports or racing action with 75″ flatscreens located all over the casino floor.

Fair Downs Off-Track Betting

Fair Downs off-track betting is located in San Jose and is the only game in town for placing legal “Sports bets.” The Fairdowns features over 100 new and massive video screens for all of the major sports and horse racing action including Sunday NFL Ticket. While horses are the only betting options available, the Fairdowns offers customers a great atmosphere for watching all sporting events.

You can enjoy free parking, free wifi, and the California Lottery at the location as well as the Home Stretch Cafe, where you can enjoy all the dining and drinks you desire. Enjoy the races in the private “Turf Club” and don't miss a second of the action!

San Francisco Online Casinos and Sportsbooks

Unfortunately, if you are a resident of the great city of San Francisco, sports betting at any physical location is illegal and not available anywhere in California. With the exception of horse racing, no forms of sports betting either online or at a physical location has yet to be legalized.

It is, however, expected to change in the coming year or two. But, until it does, the people of San Francisco will be stuck opening accounts with offshore websites. It is highly recommended to hold off until the state opens some of their own sportsbooks and passes the law as opposed to creating accounts with sketchy, offshore sites!

San Francisco Online Poker Options

In the state of California, no state-wide regulation of online poker or online gambling has managed to get passed. However, there are no laws in California that do not allow citizens to participate in real money poker games online.

While online poker will likely be regulated in San Francisco within the next year, the people of this city do have plenty of options for offshore, real-money poker websites. These sites are available to almost anyone in the United States and give poker fans plenty of options for online play.

San Francisco Sports Betting Communities, Bars, Forums, and Blogs

When you have a city featuring professional sports teams in almost all of the most popular sports in America, there is going to be a pretty big sports culture surrounding the area. Not to mention all of the combined titles each of these teams provided as well as one of the most dominating dynasties the National Football League has ever seen. So, when you combine all of that together, it is inevitable to find sports blogs, bars, and neighborhoods scattered throughout the city and online forums. So, in the sections below, we will go over some of the best places for San Francisco sports fans and bettors to hang out online and in person.

Mission Bay

With the construction of the Chase Center as the new home of the Golden State Warriors as well as being home to a handful of sports bars, the mission bay neighborhood of San Francisco is one of the top places to be for sports fans. The area features plenty of bars and clubs for enjoying your favorite teams and once as of 2019, will be within walking distance of the arena. Some bars to check out in the area are as follows:

  • Local Tap
  • Pete's Tavern
  • Double Play Bar and Grill

Oracle Park

While Oracle Park is the home of the San Francisco Giants, there are also plenty of bars, and restaurants close by that make for great food and dining options for pregame activities. The stadium also has year-round events and has been featured as one of the most incredible stadiums in baseball. Some great bars in the area for catching a game are:

  • Steffs
  • Union Square Sports Bar
  • Pine Tar Grill

San Francisco Sports Blogs

It comes as no surprise that there are dozens of sports blogs and websites dedicated to the many teams that make up the city of San Francisco. The websites listed below cover everything you need to know about the San Francisco sports teams and all the news and rumors that surround the organizations.

As of 2019 betting on sports in San Francisco or, for that matter, all of California is not legal. 

The fact that California is one of the larger states in the country and has so many professional teams both in Los Angeles and the San Francisco area the sports betting market is expected to do well there, if, and when, the bill is passed to legalize it. And with the recent Supreme Court decision that opened the door to regulated sports gambling, it’s only a matter of time until California passes sports betting legislation according to many hopeful observers.

Can I bet online in San Francisco?

Right now there are no licensed or regulated ways to bet on sports in California but residents are optimistic that will change soon. There are already plans for a public referendum on sports betting and a number of politicians have already demonstrated support for the idea.

Although technically not sports betting, it is legal to play daily fantasy sports on sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel. Citizens of San Francisco can start betting online on fantasy basketball and football teams by signing up with Draftkings which offers a $5 welcome bonus for all new customers. Yes, if you live in San Francisco you can also bet on horse races at Golden Gate Fields. 

Professional teams in San Francisco to bet on:

Warriors (NBA), Giants (MLB),  (MLB), 49ers (NFL), Sharks (NHL).

The Warriors have been the NBA’s dominant team the past five years, winning five Western Conference titles and three NBA titles. They lost in the NBA finals in June after seeing two of their top players suffer serious injuries. Kevin Durant went out with a torn Achilles and Klay Thompson went out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Those two injuries will carry into 2020 and have made the Warriors (7.5-1 odds) to win another title. They rank behind the Los Angeles Lakers (3-1), Milwaukee Bucks (6-1) and Toronto Raptors (7-1).

The Giants, after winning three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, have fallen on tough times. The Giants were among the worst teams in the National League in both 2017 and 2018 and were off to another bad start in 2019. It does not look promising for 2020 as well.

In a tough NFC West, the 49ers must battle the Rams and Seahawks, as well as an improved Cardinals team. The ‘Niners will welcome back quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from a season-ending injury, but the team is still a long shot at 25-1 to win Super Bowl 54. And those odds are probably shorter than they should be. 

The Sharks, who call San Jose home, finished last season with 101 points (3rd best in West) and advanced to the Western Conference finals where they lost to eventual Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis. Look for the Sharks to be in contention for the Cup again in 2020.    

Prominent College Teams in San Francisco:

Stanford and Cal both participate in the Pac-12. Both were OK in football last season and could be better in 2019, but both fell on hard times in basketball. 

On the football field Stanford was 9-4, which isn’t bad but the Cardinal expect more and should be better next fall. Head coach David Shaw is among the best in the business. In basketball, Stanford once a top contender, fell to 15-16 and 10th place in the conference. That’s not Cardinal-like either. Look for improvement in 2020.

Cal went 7-6 in football, an improvement for the Golden Bears, who may be on the rise. That’s not the case in basketball where the team struggled to an 8-23 record and a last-place finish.

Best Sports Sites in San Francisco: The biggest media outlet in the city is the San Francisco Chronicle (, which provides news and info on all of the professional teams and both college teams. The San Jose Mercury News, however, while smaller, might actually be better. Of course you could always go to the team websites and college websites for information as well.