Why is Craps Illegal in California? Unraveling the Mystery

Table of Contents

California is a titan in the casino gaming industry. Boasting 76 tribal casinos, it rakes in an impressive $9 billion annually from gaming revenue.

This figure is on par with its neighboring state, Nevada, which is globally renowned for its gambling hubs, Las Vegas and Reno.

Despite its vast gaming offerings, from slots to card games, California misses one of America’s favorite casino games, which makes you wonder – Why is Craps illegal in California?

In this article, we’ll dive into the legal part, and present the most amazing twist in the tale – The state does have its own unique version of craps.

The Historical Backdrop: California’s Tryst with Gambling

The mid-1800s saw the Gold Rush sweep California, leading to the emergence of numerous gambling houses. Given this rich history, it’s no surprise that California was among the first states to embrace casino gaming.

In 2000, Californians voted in favor of a bill allowing casino gaming on tribal reservations.

But this approval came with a catch.

Proposition 1A, the bill in question, had some peculiar stipulations. The most notable of these was the prohibition of any casino game determined by a wheel, like roulette, or dice, like craps.

This essentially meant that traditional craps, where outcomes are decided by dice rolls, was off the table in California.

The Ingenious Solution: California Craps

While dice-based craps was a no-go, California’s tribal casinos weren’t ready to give up. They came up with “California Craps” in 2004, a legal alternative that replaced dice with cards.

Here’s how it works:

  • Instead of dice, two sets of six cards (ace through six) are used.
  • These card sets are placed in two separate automatic shufflers.
  • The shufflers deal a card from each set, simulating a dice roll. For instance, if a 2 from one set and a 3 from another are dealt, it’s equivalent to a dice roll of 5.

Apart from this card-based mechanism, the game largely mirrors traditional craps, complete with familiar bets like pass line, don’t pass line, and more.

Unique Bets in California Craps

Different casinos in California have introduced their own unique side bets for this game. For instance:

  • Pala Casino: They offer a “Super Field” bet, which pays a whopping 500-to-1 if both cards show either 1-1 or 6-6. However, the odds are steep, with a house edge of 22.7%.
  • Pauma Casino: Their version uses a 73-card deck, including a joker. A side bet here allows players to wager that the first card drawn will be a joker, paying out 60:1. This bet comes with a house advantage of 16.67%.

Why the Card-Based Version?

The primary reason behind the invention of California Craps was the state’s prohibition on dice-based games. Proposition 1A was a compromise, allowing casino gaming but with specific restrictions.

By using cards instead of dice, tribal casinos found a clever way to stay within the legal framework while offering a variant of a beloved game.

Key Differences Between Traditional and California Craps

While the essence of the game remains the same, there are some stark differences:

  1. Use of Cards: The most obvious difference is the use of cards in California Craps as opposed to dice in the traditional version.
  2. Automatic Shufflers: These devices ensure randomness in each “roll,” simulating the unpredictability of dice rolls.
  3. Unique Side Bets: Depending on the casino, players might encounter side bets not found in traditional craps.

Online Craps in California

For those not keen on the card-based version, online craps offers a viable alternative.

Numerous online casinos cater to Californians, allowing them to enjoy the game from the comfort of their homes. While these online platforms aren’t licensed by California, there’s no record of anyone being arrested for online gambling in the state.

Final Thoughts

While traditional craps remains elusive in California, the card-based version offers an intriguing alternative. Whether you’re rolling dice or drawing cards, the thrill of craps is undeniable.

And for those who prefer the digital realm, online craps awaits with open arms.

Want to Play Craps for Real Money? Check Out This Offer:

Jake Wilfred

Try Craps for Free

Before you start playing for real money, it’s a great idea to play the game in demo mode:

Want to take full advantage of the craps simulator? Check out our dedicated page and train your skills for free with no risk involved! 

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *