Hobbies Card Games & Gambling Why Standard Roulette and Craps Are Not Legal in California Share PINTEREST Email Print Michael Blann / Getty Images Hobbies Gambling Strategies & Tips Casinos Sports Gambling Poker Blackjack By Al Moe Al W. Moe is an award-winning author and historian of Nevada casinos. He is a graduate of the University of Nevada-Reno Gaming Management Program. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Al Moe Updated March 18, 2019 Roulette's a really old game, but you can't play the time-honored style in California. Sure, the state allows roulette, just not in the traditional style. Roulette has always been a stylish and regal game, unlike craps, which is a tougher, more aggressive game. However, neither game is allowed in California, and there's a good reason. Washington State did the same thing when their poker rooms lobbied the capitol to allow "other" card games. Like Arizona and California, they figured it would be much easier to say, "Well, the state already allows poker. It's a card game. We just want a few other card games like blackjack." And that's how the measures were voted on, either by the legislators or the populace. They voted for card games, not really casinos. So, no roulette or craps. The Substitutes However, to get around the laws, some casinos in California offer a kind of roulette and craps which includes the use of playing cards. It's not the same, but it's not that different. And, you can play slots that are legal and pretty darn close to the real thing. If you love craps, you'll miss throwing the dice, making call bets at the last second, and harassing the dealers. You may also miss chatter from the dealers like, "Niner, niner, boxman's a whiner." But some of the video terminals for these games are attached to plexiglass bubbles where dice do bounce around and give a feel for the game. In fact, you'll hear plenty of good-natured screaming and rooting for points on the big electronic games. As an exception or a substitute, the games are pretty good. You can bet for smaller amounts than live games, and the casinos like them because there are cheap to run, employee-wise. Instead of a crew of four dice dealers and a boxman, a single slot tech can watch the game and several others at the same time! Electronic Roulette As for roulette, many companies now offer roulette machines that incorporate an actual wheel. You make your bets on the video screen, the wheel spins, the ball is spun the opposite direction and you can still watch it land right next to the number you were betting on (no, it's not rigged, it's just as frustrating as real roulette). In fact, it's as close as you can get to the real thing, and many younger players have adapted to the new electronic games very well. Perhaps because it's all they have ever known. That, unfortunately, doesn't bode well for casino dealers. California casinos also use a variety of playing card roulette games to attract business. These games have included Big-6 style wheels with 38 playing cards representing numbers 1-36 and 0 and 00, to decks of cards where the numbers run from the same 0 and 00 to 36. There are also some games where a roulette wheel is spun, but only to represent which part of the layout a single card from a shoe of 37 (or 38) cards are drawn. If using a roulette wheel to choose a playing card to represent the number that could have been spun on a roulette wheel isn't silly, nothing is, but that's the way of the world in getting around specific gaming regulations - at least in California! Unfortunately, not every casino is going to have the games you want. Many Nevada casinos have only slots these days because table games are much more expensive to manage.