Facing a massive budget shortfall in 2020, California sports betting looked like it could become a reality in the coming years. This was always going to be an uphill battle because of heavy tribal casino presence and influence. Ultimately, that's what halted California's sports betting bill and pushed its legalization date to 2023 at the earliest. Here's why legal sports betting in California won't happen anytime soon.
Sports Betting Legalization: California, Texas, Florida & New York are Key to Reaching Market Potential
California Native American gaming tribes are advancing a constitutional amendment that would permit retail sportsbooks on tribal lands. State officials are nearing final approval to place the referendum on an upcoming ballot, but it’s unclear if it can be placed as part of the 2021 gubernatorial recall or if it must wait until the 2022 midterms.
California Sports Betting Begins to Take Shape During Wild December
The nation’s largest potential retail sports betting market is now closer than ever to having that become a reality, the latest development in a wild month .
California Grants Second Extension for Tribal Sports Betting Initiative
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering has suspended its efforts to gather signatures for its California sports betting initiative, introduced in November 2019. The campaign filed for an extension on June 9 and was initially granted a 90-day extension. Now, Judge James Arguelles has extended the deadline again, from Oct. 12 to Dec. 14. The hope is still to get the initiative onto the 2020 ballot.
LA Kings and LA Galaxy Announce DFS Partnership with Monkey Knife Fight
Monkey Knife Fight (MKF) has become the official daily fantasy sports partner for both the Los Angeles Kings (NHL) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS). Those teams join the LA Chargers (NFL) and San Diego Padres (MLB) in being sponsored by MKF. Monkey Knife Fight will get branding on these teams' websites and in stadiums. Unlike popular DFS operators like FanDuel and DraftKings, players compete against the house instead of other players, making it a bit more similar to traditional sports wagering.
California Senator Pulls Support for Sports Wagering Measure
California Senator Bill Dodd pulled support for SCA 6, a measure that could have legalized sports wagering in the state of California. The initiative was opposed strongly by California tribal casinos and California cardrooms alike. The bill was rushed to the table in hopes of making it on the November 2020 ballot, and Dodd cited that lack of time was his primary reason for pulling the bill. He remains hopeful of passing it in a future session.
California NewsSee All
California Sports Betting Timeline
The COVID-19 pandemic hinders significant progress. California tribes are unable to get needed signatures due to the lockdown, and legislators are not voting on bills.
Assemblyman Adam Gray returns with another sports betting bill, ACA 16. In parallel, Sen. Bill Dodd introduces matching legislation in the Senate through SCA 6.
Californians for sports betting files a petition to get the issue on the 2020 November ballot, but they are unable to capture the needed petition signatures.
Assemblyman Adam Gray returns with ACA 18. This bill intends to amend the California constitution. However, the California constitution requires voter approval for an amendment during an election year.
Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray introduces sports gambling legislation titled CA AB 1573. This measure fails to gain traction.
Pechanga Resort Casino Website
Pechanga Casino has the largest casino floor in the state of California at 188,000 square feet of gaming space. The casino features over 5,000 slot machines, 158 state-of-the-art table games, a 700-seat bingo room, a non-smoking poker room, and a High Limit salon. The casino reopened for business on June 1.
Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa
Morongo Casino is one of only six AAA four-diamond casino resorts in California, with 148,000 square feet of casino floor gaming and over 2,000 slot machines and table games. The casino features a retro-1960s interior look with a decorative ceiling and back-lit drapes. Morongo has a 22-table poker room along with a high-limit room.
San Manuel Casino Website
Located just outside of San Bernardino, San Manuel Casino is notable for its many themed sections. Guests can go for 21 at the Blazing 7s Blackjack Arena or take a trip to Asia in the Lotus 8 Palace. You can also visit the Rockin' Casino and its 16 table games and over 900 slot machines, and of course, there's a High Limit section too. If it's food you're looking for, you can visit Rock & Brews, Chingon Kitchen, Big Mo' Cafe, and TuTu's Food Court, or put your feet up and relax at the Bear Springs Hotel.
Pala Casino Spa and Resort
Operated by the Pala Band of Mission Indians, Pala Casino has 84 table games and over 2,200 slot machines in 86,000 square feet of gaming space just northeast of San Diego. The venue also offers a 500-room hotel, an 11,000-square-foot spa, and Luis Rey's Sports Bar.
Red Hawk Casino Website
Located on a hilltop a few minutes east of Sacramento, Red Hawk Casino boasts traditional architecture and beautiful natural views. The casino has a variety of table games and over 2,000 slot machines along with a special High Limit area for play, and hungry bettors can visit Henry's Steakhouse or Pearl Asian Cuisine.
Viejas Casino and Resort
Viejas originally started as a bingo room and remains one of the best in the state. It also features a 133,000-square-foot gaming floor with over 2,500 slot machines, 86 table games, and an off-track betting facility in the mountains east of San Diego. Other amenities include a coffee bar, three restaurants, and a nearby outlet mall.
Chumash Casino Resort
Located in the heart of wine country, Chumash Casino offers 115,000 square feet of casino gaming, featuring 2,300 slot machines and over 45 table games. The AAA Four Diamond-rated hotel has 320 rooms, along with a 135-foot tower that gives hotel guests an incredible view of the Santa Ynez Valley below, and visitors can also frequent the Samala Showroom for bingo.
Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa
Just outside the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs, Agua Caliente is a little taste of gamblers paradise with slot and poker machines, a private live poker room, and an endless array of slot machines. Resort amenities include two cafes, a deli, a steakhouse, and a buffet along with an outdoor pool, bar, and grill and live entertainment. The casino is operating at 50% capacity during the pandemic with mandatory masks.
Harrah's Southern California Resort and Casino
Harrah's SoCal is one of 50 properties under the Harrah's umbrella, home to ESPN's World Series of Poker and operated by Caesars. The Harrah's land was renamed Funner in 2016, and Harrah's SoCal is committed to fun. The venue offers nearly 60,000 square feet of casino gaming with over 1,000 slot machines. You've got plenty of options if you're hungry, including Che Bello, 'Ritas Cantina, Earl of Sandwich, SR76 Beerworks, Fiore, and more.
Blue Lake Casino & Hotel
Blue Lake Casino is one of the best in Northern California, just a few miles from Eureka on the picturesque Blue Lake in the Redwoods of Humboldt County. The Casino features 600 slot machines, live poker, and 24-hour table games. Guests can also enjoy fine dining at Alice's Restaurant, Sushi Blue, the Lily Pad Cafe and the Wave Lounge.
California Sports Betting
Sports betting is not available in California. California does not yet have an active bill. Although there was potential in 2020, sports betting is not progressing in California for now.
How California Sports Betting Compares
We graded California on its sports betting bill and experience relative to other states.
California Sports Betting Grading Card:
Mobile Betting Options: TBD
We'll grade California on mobile betting options as this information becomes available.
We'll grade California on deposit options as this information becomes available.
Fair Pricing: TBD
Pricing is still unknown for future California sports betting.
Sport Offerings: TBD
We'll grade California on sport offerings as it takes shape.
California Sports Betting Positives
More information about California sports betting positives coming.
California Sports Betting Negatives
More information about California sports betting negatives coming.
California Sports Betting Tips
Sports Betting for Beginners
If you’re new to sports betting in California, you likely have questions: How much should you be betting? Where should you be betting on the Warriors win totals? How do you find the best odds for a Clippers game? Every sport and bet type comes with different nuances.
Our 11 sports betting tips for beginners can help you make savvier decisions come game time.
Sports Betting Glossary
Sports betting comes with its own language and terminology — favorites and underdogs, over/unders and props, juice and vig and so much more. It can all be a bit overwhelming and intimidating for newer betting enthusiasts, so be sure to consult our sports betting glossary for detailed definitions on all the key terms.
Sports Betting Mistakes to Avoid
Whether you’re betting on the Lakers game totals or A's futures, sports betting isn't easy. It’s important to be responsible and not overextend yourself. There will always be ups and downs, but if you stay true to our nine mistakes to avoid, your sports betting experience will be much more fun.
California Teams to Bet on
Pro Teams to Bet on
California has more professional sports teams than any other state, which means there's a team for everyone to root for, no matter your taste. Even if you only count the teams at the highest level of competition in their respective sports, including three football teams, five basketball teams, five baseball teams, three hockey teams and four soccer teams!
In the last decade alone, these California teams have won nine championships, almost one per year. Californians sure do love their pro sports teams. We expect big bets to be placed on these California teams soon.
NFL Betting in California
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are one of the NFL's premier franchises. They've won five Super Bowls, tied for third-most all-time, with all five Super Bowl wins between 1981 and 1994 under Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young. San Francisco also ranks third all-time with seven Super Bowl appearances, and the 49ers have played in and hosted the most NFC Championship games. No matter how you slice it, the 49ers stack up with every great NFL franchise. In February 2020, San Francisco came within one-quarter of yet another Super Bowl win.
Perhaps appropriately, the 49ers joined the NFL in 1949, exactly 100 years after the gold rush the team is named after. They were the first major professional sports team in San Francisco. The 49ers played over four decades at Candlestick Park in San Francisco before moving to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014. Kyle Shanahan coaches San Francisco.
San Francisco 49ers Rivalry #1: vs. Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks may not be San Francisco's biggest historic rival, but there's little question that they're the 49ers' top rival these days. The teams have played in the NFC West together since 2002. Still, the rivalry didn't pick up until earlier this decade when 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll brought their former college rivalry (Harbaugh at Stanford, Carroll at USC) the pros in an intense, hard-hitting rivalry. The rivalry has continued under Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers and Seahawks play at least twice a season, and the meetings almost always carry on the divisional race.
San Francisco 49ers Rivalry #2: vs. Dallas Cowboys. If you watched any football at all in the 90s, you know there was no bigger rivalry in football than the 49ers and Cowboys. The teams met 8 times between 1993 and 1997, including three straight NFC Championship Games, with the winner going on to win the Super Bowl each time. The teams also played in back-to-back NFC Championship Games in 1971-72 and then again in 1982, when Joe Montana completed the famous game-winning pass to Dwight Clark in the final minute known as The Catch. The Cowboys lead the all-time series and have won five of seven postseason meetings, though the teams haven't met in the playoffs since the third of those three NFC Championships in 1995.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are the only NFL franchise to win a championship in three different cities, though two of them came before the Super Bowl era. The Los Angeles Rams won the championship in 1951 in the first iteration of the LA team, and that team had moved over from the Cleveland Rams, which won a title in 1945. The St. Louis Rams won the franchise's only Super Bowl in 1999 under Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner and the high-scoring "Greatest Show on Turf" offense.
The Rams first came to Los Angeles in 1946 immediately after winning a title, the only time an NFL championship team has played the following season in another city. The Rams played in LA until leaving for St. Louis, Missouri, after the 1994 season. They played there through 2015 before moving back to Los Angeles, where they play again today. The franchise has played in four Super Bowls, twice as St. Louis and twice as LA, most recently in 2019.
The Rams have found their permanent home in beautiful new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, which opened in September 2020 and is also home to the LA Chargers. The Rams are coached by the young whiz kid, Sean McVay.
Los Angeles Rams Rivalry: vs. San Francisco 49ers. Because the 49ers have moved around so much over the years, it's difficult to nail down one specific lasting rival. Their northern neighbors are probably as close as it comes, particularly because of the longstanding Northern vs. Southern California rivalry in sports and culture. That geographic rivalry wore off while the Rams were in St. Louis but are ramping up again. It was especially strong in the 1970s when the teams first became division rivals and competed regularly for the NFC West title. The Rams dominated the series early, but the 49ers now lead the all-time series. San Francisco won the only playoff matchup in the 1989 NFC Championship Game.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers were one of the charter members of the American Football League (AFL). They began to play in Los Angeles for one season before moving to San Diego and joined the NFL in the merger in 1970. The team played in San Diego for most of the franchise's duration but returned to LA again for the start of the 2017 season, one year after the Rams had returned to Los Angeles after many years in St. Louis, Missouri. The Chargers were among the top franchises in the AFL, playing in the AFL Championship Game four times and winning a title in 1963. They've played in only one Super Bowl, losing their in-state rival San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX in 1995.
As of September 2020, the Chargers now play in the gorgeous new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, which they share with the LA Rams. The stadium will host the 2022 Super Bowl, the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship, and the 2028 Summer Olympics. The Chargers are coached by Anthony Lynn and appear to have found their franchise quarterback in rookie Justin Herbert.
Los Angeles Chargers Rivalry: vs. Las Vegas Raiders. The Chargers and Raiders were charter members of the AFL together in 1960 and have always played in the AFC West together since joining the NFL. This rivalry has long been the AFC version of Northern vs. Southern California, with the Raiders representing Oakland in the north and the Chargers repping San Diego in the south. Oddly enough, now that both teams have moved and the Raiders play in Las Vegas, Nevada, the teams are 350 miles closer together now. The Raiders lead the all-time series and won the only playoff meeting in 1981.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet on Football Guide
NBA Betting in California
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are champions again! Lakers fans waited a whole decade for another ring. Finally, they won their 17th championship in October 2020 when LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the franchise back to the top of the league for the first time since Kobe Bryant won his final ring in 2010. It tells you all you need to know about the Lakers franchise that 10 years is considered a championship drought, but when you've won 17 titles in three-quarters of a century, 10 years is a long time.
The Lakers were an NBA dynasty from the jump. As the Minneapolis Lakers, the team was the league's first dynasty under George Mikan, winning five titles between 1949 and 1954. They moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and appeared in eight Finals without a victory, most of them led by Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, and most of them coming shortly to the Boston Celtics. The team finally broke through for another ring in 1972 when Wilt Chamberlain led the team to its first LA title. The next Lakers championship came in 1980 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a rookie Magic Johnson, and the Showtime Lakers would go on to win five titles in the 80s. Then it was another drought before Shaquille O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant led the team to a threepeat from 2000-02, with Kobe adding two more titles in 2009 and 2010, leading to LeBron 2020. That's a whole lot of NBA legends in one paragraph and a whole lot of rings.
You cannot tell the history of the NBA without the Los Angeles Lakers, or even a decade of it. Any list of all-time greats is dotted with players who played for the Lakers up and down the list. Lakers purple and gold are as recognizable as any brand in the league, and the Buss family still owns the team. The Lakers played many years at The Forum in Inglewood before the team moved to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles in 1999. The champs are coached by Frank Vogel and will look to defend their title under LeBron James and Anthony Davis whenever the new season begins.
Los Angeles Lakers Rivalry: vs. Boston Celtics. There's no bigger rivalry in the NBA than Lakers versus Celtics. The two franchises have combined to win 34 of 74 championships through 2000, 17 each, and nearly half the league's titles between them. The Lakers and Celtics have met in the NBA Finals 12 different times, with the matchup practically an annual occurrence in the 1960s and then coming back strong again in the 1980s. First, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor against Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, then Magic and Kareem vs. Larry Bird and Robert Parish. The Celtics won the first eight Finals meetings before the Lakers finally beat them in 1985. LA has won three of the last four but trails the overall series both in the playoffs and all-time.
The rivalry remains one of the biggest in American sports. When you have as much history as the Lakers, any number of teams could call themselves your rival. But when it comes to the Lakers, there can only be one: Lakers and Celtics forever.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are LA's "other" team, though they're always trying hard to close the gap with big brother. The franchise began as the Buffalo Braves, an NBA expansion team in 1970. They had renamed the Clippers when they moved to San Diego in 1978, but the one consistent thing was that the team didn't find much success. The Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and still struggled to win or steal much of the Lakers fan base. Former owner Donald Sterling moved them to LA and had a long, controversial stay with the team before the NBA banned him in April 2014.
A new era dawned upon the Clippers over the past decade. First, it was the "Lob City" Clippers under Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and now Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have the team dreaming big. The Clippers have still never made the NBA Finals, the oldest such franchise in the league, but they dream of getting their soon with Kawhi and PG. Los Angeles made a coaching change after a disappointing 2020 playoff exit, so they'll start next season under new head coach, Tyronn Lue. The Clippers play their home games at the Staples Center in LA, the only NBA team to share an arena. Someday, they'll hope to hang a banner of their own next to all those Lakers ones.
Los Angeles Clippers Rivalry: vs. Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have won 17 NBA championships. The Clippers have won six playoff series. Suffice to say this rivalry is a bit one-sided, and that the Clippers certainly consider the Lakers their rival far more than the other way around. It must be hard playing in the same arena every night, looking up at all those championship banners hanging in the rafters. The best the Clippers can offer is a pair of division titles and a few "led a series 3-1" banners, at least for now. The LA rivals have never met in the playoffs, though the Clippers certainly believe they'll change that soon with Kawhi and PG in town. First, they're going to have to make it far enough in the playoffs to play them. One thing is for certain: it'll be a Staples Center war when they do.
Golden State Warriors
Without any question, the Warriors have been the NBA's best team of the last half-decade. Golden State exploded onto the scene in 2015 when Stephen Curry won MVP and led the team to their first NBA Finals in 40 years, helping the Warriors win the championship. The following season, the Warriors had the best regular season in NBA history with Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, going 73-9 and coming without one game of a second straight championship before falling to Cleveland. That summer, Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, and they went on to win the next two championships. Golden State was only the second NBA franchise to make five straight NBA Finals, winning three titles.
It had been a long time waiting for the Ws. The franchise began as the Philadelphia Warriors in 1946, winning the inaugural Basketball Association of America (BAA) championship and winning another title (now in the NBA) in 1956. The Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1962 but lucked into Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain before leaving Philly. They traded him away in 1965 but drafted Rick Barry soon after. Barry led the Warriors back to the NBA Finals in 1967 and again in 1975, helping them win the title in '75 over the heavily favored Washington Bullets in one of the biggest Finals upsets in league history.
The Warriors struggled through the 80s, enjoyed fun rides with Run TMC in the 90s and the We Believe Warriors in the 00s, and then exploded with Splash Brothers, Steph, and Klay. Kevin Durant is gone now, but with Curry and Thompson back healthy, the Warriors look poised to contend again in 2021. Steve Kerr coaches golden State. They play their home games in the brand new Chase Center in San Francisco.
Golden State Warriors Rivalry #1: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers. Suffice to say; this is a very recent rivalry and one that may already be over. The Warriors and Cavs met in four straight NBA Finals from 2015 through 2016. Golden State won three of the four but probably lost the most important one, with the Cavs memorably returning from a 3-1 Finals deficit to shock the 73-9 Warriors. With LeBron James now gone, the rivalry probably is too. You could argue that the real No. 1 Warriors rival right now is simply LeBron James. Bring on the Lakers in 2021.
Golden State Warriors Rivalry #2: vs. Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are also a more recent rival for the Warriors, and that one extends both on and off the court. The Thunder were a thorn in Golden State's side with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and OKC's length and athleticism pushed the Warriors to the brink repeatedly and nearly knocked them out in the 2016 playoffs. That was the end of the games being close but only sparked the rivalry further when Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State. Any return to Oklahoma was contentious with Durant around. Now that both KD and Russ are on new teams, this rivalry may be a thing of the past.
The Kings are most certainly California's fourth NBA team. The Kings are the only professional sports team in Sacramento, but they didn't always play in California. The franchise began in Rochester, New York, as the Rochester Royals and won the first National Basketball League championship in 1946. They won another championship in 1951, this time in the NBA. The Royals moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1957, then relocated again to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1972 and even played occasional home games in Omaha, Nebraska. That 1972 move was when the franchise renamed itself the Kings. The Kings finally found their home in 1985 in Sacramento.
The Kings have never rediscovered their early NBA success. The team hasn't even been back to the NBA Finals since 1951, the league's second season, back when there were only nine teams. Sacramento was on the Finals' brink in 2002 before a crushing loss to the rival Los Angeles Lakers. The Kings haven't even been to the playoffs since 2006. Sacramento plays its home games at the Golden 1 Center. Luke Walton coaches the Kings.
Sacramento Kings Rivalry: vs. Los Angeles Lakers. It would be fair to call this a one-sided rivalry, with the Kings forever trying to catch up with LA. The Lakers ended Sacramento's best modern season devastatingly in 2002, knocking the Kings out of the playoffs a third straight season. The teams also met in five of the first NBA playoffs. They've met nine times overall, with the Kings winning only one series, though to be fair, they did win their lone franchise championship that season way back in 1951.
WNBA Betting in California
Los Angeles Sparks
The Sparks were one of the WNBA founding members when the league launched and played in its inaugural game on June 21, 1997, against the New York Liberty. The Sparks won their first WNBA championship in 2001, then won it again the following season, still the most recent back-to-back champions in league history. The Sparks added another championship in 2016, their third title tying them for fourth-most all-time in the WNBA.
The Sparks have played in five WNBA Finals and made the playoffs almost every year of their existence. Los Angeles has been home to some of the league's brightest stars over the year, like three-time MVP Lisa Leslie and two-time MVP Candace Parker. The Sparks' six WNBA MVPs are more than any other franchise. The team plays its home games in the Staples Center in Los Angeles and is coached by former LA Laker champion Derek Fisher.
Los Angeles Sparks Rivalry: vs. Minnesota Lynx. The Sparks and Lynx have become one of the best rivalries in the WNBA over the past decade. The teams repeatedly vying for the Western Conference and then WNBA crown, once the league reworked the playoffs specifically so these teams could meet for the championship. The rivals met in the playoffs four times in seven seasons between 2012 and 2018, including in back-to-back Finals in 2016-17. The Lynx won three of the five playoff series, but the teams split the titles.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Basketball Guide
MLB Betting in California
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers are World Series Champions! Dodgers fans waited 32 long years for another title, but the drought is finally over. The Dodgers went 43-17 in the pandemic-shortened season, best in the majors and a record win pace. They swept the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres the first two rounds of the playoffs before falling behind 3-1 to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. But these Dodgers would not quit! They came back to win the next three and head to their third World Series in four years, then finished the job by beating the Tampa Bay Rays in six. Corey Seager was named World Series MVP, while longtime players like Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, and Cody Bellinger finally got their title.
This is the Dodgers' seventh championship and sixth since moving to LA, and it was their 24th pennant, most of any team in the National League. Everything about the Dodgers franchise is historic. The Brooklyn Dodgers helped Jackie Robinson break the color barrier in 1947. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, they became the first MLB team ever to play in LA. They were the first West Coast team and the first Western team to win a World Series, the first team broadcast on television, and the first to use batting helmets. The list goes on and on for one of the most historic franchises in baseball.
The franchise began as the Brooklyn Grays in 1883 and went through several names before playing as the Brooklyn Dodgers for many decades at historic Ebbets Field. Now that they're in LA, the Dodgers have played their home games at Dodger Stadium in the Elysian Park neighborhood of Los Angeles since 1958. It's the oldest MLB stadium west of the Mississippi and the third oldest overall. The Dodgers are managed by Dave Roberts and will gear up next fall with hopes of yet another trip to the World Series.
Los Angeles Dodgers Rivalry #1: vs. San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers and Giants are one of baseball's oldest and most historic rivalries. The rivalry started when both teams played in New York City, the Dodgers in Brooklyn and the Giants in Manhattan, but both teams moved to the West Coast at the same time and kept the rivalry going there. This is one of many Northern vs. Southern California rivalries in and out of sports, and it has historically been one of the most balanced rivalries in sports. The Dodgers just passed the Giants in 2020 for most National League pennants, while the Giants remain one ahead in the World Series championship count. The NL West foes play many times every year and have faced over 2,500 times in history, with the Giants hold the narrowest of leads in the all-time series, winning 50.4% of the games through the 2020 season.
Los Angeles Dodgers Rivalry #2: vs. New York Yankees. Like the Giants, the Yankees are an old Dodgers rival dating back to their days together in New York City. The teams were always huge rivals when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn, facing off in the World Series six times between 1947 to 1956. The rivalry maintained its intensity even when the Dodgers moved to LA, with the Yankees and Dodgers meeting four more times in the World Series since the move. The teams have met 11 times in the World Series, more than any other foes, with the Dodgers winning only three times. Their last World Series meeting was in 1981, and the teams did not play again in a non-exhibition game until the introduction of interleague play in 2004. That helps keep the rivalry alive today... until the inevitable next World Series meetup.
Los Angeles Dodgers Rivalry #3: vs. Los Angeles Angels. This "crosstown" rivalry is not crosstown since the Angels do not play in Los Angeles and never have since 1965. The Angels used to be the Anaheim Angels before changing their name to the confusing "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" in the earlier part of this century. Dodgers fans love to ridicule Angels fans by calling themselves the "Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles." The Freeway Series is called much because fans can drive down Interstate 5 from one stadium to another. The Angels lead the all-time series, but the teams have never played in the postseason.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels are technically still the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, though most have stopped including those two words in the official name. The Angels still play their home games at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, and they've formerly been called the California Angels and the Anaheim Angels since their introduction into Major League Baseball as one of the league's first two expansion teams in 1961 by famous cowboy actor Gene Autry, the franchise's first owner.
The Angels have made the playoffs 10 times, six of them in the first decade of the 21st century. They've only ever made it once as a wild card in 2002, notable because those wild card Angels made it to the only World Series appearance in franchise history and won the world title with the help of Garrett Anderson, Troy Glaus, Darin Erstad, and of course, the Rally Monkey. The Angels last appeared in the playoffs in 2014 but hope to be back soon with three-time MVP Mike Trout. Joe Maddon manages them.
Los Angeles Angels Rivalry #1: vs. Texas Rangers. The Angels and Rangers have been AL West rivals for years, playing many times every season. They've also shared several key players like Nolan Ryan, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, and Mike Napoli, which has intensified the rivalry. The Angels and Rangers are also the only MLB teams to have pitched a perfect game against one another.
Los Angeles Angels Rivalry #2: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. The Angels and Dodgers play "the Freeway Series" since both teams' fans can create simply driveways down Interstate 5 to get from one team's stadium to the other. That makes this an obvious regional rivalry, though the teams have never met in the postseason and only ever play in interleague play. The rivalry also carries over with the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings in the NHL, called "the Freeway Face-Off." The Angels lead the all-time regular-season series.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are one of the oldest, most successful franchises in professional baseball. The Giants first played at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan as the New York Giants (and as the Gothams), and they have more wins than any team in any American sport. The Giants were the first modern professional sports team in New York City, and they also became the first MLB team to play on the West coast when they moved to San Francisco in 1958.
The Giants have won 23 National League pennants, most all-time until the Los Angeles Dodgers passed them in 2020. The Giants' 20 World Series appearances are also an NL record. They've won the World Series eight times, fifth-most of any franchise in baseball. The Giants went 56 years without a World Series title despite legends Willie Mays and Barry Bonds but finally broke through with a championship in 2010, then did it again in 2012 and again in 2014. That made the Giants only the second team in National League history to win three World Series in a five-year span.
The Giants moved from Candlestick Park to the new Oracle Park in 2000, just along San Francisco Bay and complete with McCovey Cove, where the best sluggers hit their home runs into the water. The Giants last made the playoffs in 2016 and are managed by Gabe Kapler.
San Francisco Giants Rivalry #1: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants and Dodgers were the first two MLB teams to play on the West Coast, but this rivalry lasted for a long time before moving in the 1950s. The rivalry started on the East Coast, back when the Giants and Dodgers both played in New York City, with the Giants in Manhattan and the Dodgers in Brooklyn. This has been one of the most balanced and even rivalries in sports. The Giants have won more World Series wins than the Dodgers, though the Dodgers just passed the Giants with one more National League pennant. The Giants also lead the all-time series with over 2,500 games played through the end of the 2020 season, winning 50.4% of the meetings.
San Francisco Giants Rivalry #2: vs. Oakland Athletics. The Bay Bridge Series pits these two San Francisco Bay rivals against one another, and the rivalry peaked in 1989 when the Giants and Athletics met in the World Series. The A's swept the Giants, but the World Series was most memorable for the earthquake that shook San Francisco Bay just moments before Game 3 was about to begin and delayed the World Series. The teams also met in the World Series three other teams early in the 20th century while teams were still in New York and Philadelphia, with the Athletics winning three of four World Series meetings. The teams meet annually in interleague play now, and the Athletics lead the regular-season series.
These days, most outside observers think of the Oakland Athletics as an underdog "Moneyball" team that's always a long shot in the playoffs, but it wasn't always this way. The Athletics franchise has won nine World Series titles. The first five championships came in Philadelphia, where the team began play in 1901. The team then moved to Kansas City in Philadelphia in 1955 but didn't win a title there. They finally headed west to Oakland in 1968 and ripped off three straight championships almost immediately in 1972-74. The Athletics' most recent championship came in 1989. The A's played in the World Series again in 1990, their most recent appearance, and have won 15 American League pennants.
Throughout all their stops, the team has always been called the Athletics, or A's. The Philadelphia Athletics were one of eight AL charter franchises, and they were managed their first five decades by legendary manager Connie Mack. The general public knows the Athletics best these days through Michael Lewis's "Moneyball" description of Oakland executive Billy Beane's unique style of analytics and team building, which continues to keep the team in contention annually despite a lack of resources. The A's have made six of the last nine playoffs. They are managed by Bob Melvin and have played their home games at the Oakland Coliseum since 1968.
Oakland Athletics Rivalry #1: vs. San Francisco Giants. The Bay Bridge Series is a unique rivalry that pits these San Francisco Bay rivals. The teams met three times in the World Series early in the 20th century when both teams were still on the East Coast, the Athletics in Philadelphia, and the Giants in New York. The Athletics won two of the three matchups. But their most well-known World Series came in 1989. The A's swept the Giants for their most recent championship, but the Series was memorable for a Game 3 earthquake that shook the Bay and delayed the World Series. Athletics fans prioritize the Giants as their top rival far more than the other way around, though some Bay area fans root for both teams. The A's lead the series.
Oakland Athletics Rivalry #2: vs. Philadelphia Phillies. The Philadelphia City Series is much more a historic rivalry than a current one. Remember, the Athletics played in Philadelphia for over five decades. They won a lot while they were there, which made them obvious rivals of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League — think Yankees-Mets or Cubs-Sox. But when the Athletics left for Kansas City and then Oakland, they moved further and further away. Between that and playing in opposite leagues, the rivalry effectively died off, though the teams still meet occasionally in interleague play.
San Diego Padres
The Padres were an expansion team in 1969, so they've played just over 50 years of baseball, all in San Diego. The Padres have only 15 winning seasons in franchise history as of 2020. They made the World Series in 1984 and 1998 but lost both times, making San Diego one of only six MLB teams that have never won a World Series. The Padres are also famously the only MLB team that has never thrown a no-hitter. It says something that the most well-known franchise figure over the years is probably the San Diego Chicken.
San Diego didn't make the playoffs until they won the NL West for the first time in 1984, making it to the World Series before coming up short. The Padres have only made the playoffs six times ever, though they did make it there in 2020 and won their first postseason series since 1998. San Diego is the only city to have an MLB team but no other pro sports team, now that the Chargers have moved to Los Angeles.
The Padres play their home games at Petco Park in San Diego. They are managed by Jayce Tingler and have an exciting young core led by Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Wil Myers. Perhaps the next 50 Padres years will be better than the first 50.
San Diego Padres Rivalry: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Let's be blunt: it's hard to have any rivalries when you're not any good. The Dodgers barely even acknowledge the Padres, but San Diego fans are out to beat their NL West rival, and the rivalry is starting to spark. The Padres swept the Dodgers to end the 1996 season and make the playoffs for their second time ever, and the teams had a memorable brawl in 2013. This year they met in the postseason for the first time, with the Dodgers sweeping the Padres en route to winning the World Series. The rivalry should only continue to build.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet on Baseball Guide
NHL Betting in California
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings were one of six NHL expansion teams in 1967, bringing professional hockey to California for the first time. Though they've always played as the Los Angeles Kings, the team initially played its games at The Forum in Inglewood before moving to the Staples Center in downtown LA in 1999, which they share with the LA Lakers and LA Clippers (NBA).
The Kings put themselves on the national map when they traded for legendary Wayne Gretzky in 1988. Gretzky scored on his first shot with the Kings and won his ninth and final MVP his first year in LA. He led the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history in 1993, though LA never raised the Cup with Gretzky. Soon after, the Kings fell into financial distress and even declared bankruptcy in 1995. The team finally reemerged over the past decade and won its first two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014 with stars Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, and others.
Former Kings defender Rob Blake, who starred next to Gretzky in the 90s, is the team's general manager now. Los Angeles, its coached by Todd McLellan.
Los Angeles Kings Rivalry #1: vs. San Jose Sharks. The Sharks became LA's first California rival when they began to play in 1991, one of many rivalries pitting the cultural and regional differences between Northern and Southern California. The teams play in the same division and met in the playoffs four times in six seasons over the last decade, pushing the rivalry to its peak. The Sharks lead the regular-season matchup all-time, but the teams split those four playoff series, and the Kings won two Cups during that period while San Jose has yet to lift the Cup.
Los Angeles Kings Rivalry #2: vs. Anaheim Ducks. This rivalry is often called the "Freeway Face-Off" since fans in the LA metro area can travel from one team's arena to the other down Interstate 5. The Ducks have only played since 1993, so this rivalry does not have a long history, but it may arguably be LA's fiercest because of the regional rivalry. The teams have only met in the playoffs one time, with the Kings beating the Ducks in seven en route to winning the Stanley Cup in 2014. Anaheim leads the all-time series.
The Ducks began to play as an NHL expansion team in 1993. They were originally the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a reference to the popular 1992 Disney film, "The Mighty Ducks". The team later simplified its name to the Anaheim Ducks in 2006, and the change must have brought them good luck. The Ducks lifted their first and only Stanley Cup after that season in 2007. That was Anaheim's second appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, having played there in 2003. The Ducks have won their division six times and made it to the playoffs 14 times.
The Ducks have distanced themselves somewhat from "The Mighty Ducks" franchise these days, though they occasionally still play in alternate teal and black Mighty Ducks uniforms. These days the team's colors are black, metallic gold, and orange. The Ducks play their home games at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Dallas Eakins coaches them.
Anaheim Ducks Rivalry: vs. Los Angeles Kings. Ducks fans need only travel down Interstate 5 to get from the Honda Center to the Staples Center, which is why fans in the Los Angeles metropolitan area call this the "Freeway Face-Off." Ducks fans hate the Kings, and games between the rivals are typically fierce and physical. Anaheim leads the all-time series, but the Kings won the teams' only playoff meeting in 2014 in seven games.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks began to play as an expansion team in 1991, the only NHL team located in the San Francisco Bay area. The Sharks won the Presidents' Trophy in the 2008-09 season, given the best regular-season record to the team. They reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016, losing to Pittsburgh. To date, those are the high water marks for the franchise thus far, which has also won its division six times.
The Sharks are best known for their traditions, like playing the Jaws theme song during power plays and having the players skate onto the ice through a giant shark's mouth at the start of the game. The Sharks initially began play at the Cow Palace in Daly City but moved to the SAP Center in San Jose in 1993, where they play today. The local fans refer to home ice as the Shark Tank.
San Jose Sharks Rivalry: vs. Los Angeles Kings. When the Sharks launched their franchise in 1991, the Kings were an obvious and natural rival as the only other California team. The rivalry between Northern and Southern California is fierce and extends to other sports and beyond the sporting world into cultural and regional differences. The Sharks and Kings play in the same division and meet many times each season. They also met in the playoffs four times in six years at the start of the past decade, splitting the series. San Jose leads the all-time series and has been to the Stanley Cup Finals more recently.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Hockey Guide
MLS Betting in California
Los Angeles Galaxy
The LA Galaxy is one of the most prestigious and successful clubs in the MLS. The Galaxy was one of 10 MLS charter members and began to play in 1996. Early on, the Galaxy played their games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, but they've played at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson since moving there in 2003. The Galaxy have played in the MLS Cup final nine times, lifting the Cup in five of them. They've also won four Supporters' Shields, two U.S. Open Cups, and one CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The Galaxy have only ever missed the MLS playoffs five times.
The Galaxy is as close as an MLS club that comes to Real Madrid and its Galacticos. The club opened a new era in the MLS when they signed David Beckham, a world-famous celebrity superstar, and by far the most well-known player in the MLS at the time. Since then, the Galaxy has also been home to other international stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Steven Gerrard, Chicharito Hernandez, and Robbie Keane. The Galaxy was also home to American soccer great Landon Donovan, their all-time leading scorer. Dominic Kinnear coaches the Galaxy.
Los Angeles Galaxy Rivalry #1: vs. Los Angeles FC. This is a new rivalry since LAFC has only played since 2018, but it's already one of the MLS fiercest. El Tráfico, as it is called -- a play on words from the epic Spanish rivalry, El Clásico -- pits these crosstown LA rivals against one another, and the matchups are almost always filled with fireworks. The rivals have played 10 times through 2020, with the Galaxy winning four and LAFC winning three, but LAFC has won both playoff meetings. Any El Tráfico has become must-see TV.
Los Angeles Galaxy Rivalry #2: vs. San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose is no longer the Galaxy's top rival with LAFC around, but the California Clásico is still a big one every time. These teams were both charter MLS members, so they've competed from the beginning, and each won a pair of MLS Cups in the early 2000s. The battle of Southern versus Northern California is not just regional but also cultural. The Galaxy leads the all-time series and dominates the silverware margin too.
Los Angeles FC
Los Angeles FC was a new expansion MLS team in 2014, announced just three days after Chivas USA was dissolved in the LA area. LAFC would be a fresh start, with new black and gold colors and a new state-of-the-art stadium. LAFC plays their home games at the beautiful open-air Banc of California Stadium in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.
LAFC had the best season for an MLS expansion club, earning 57 points and even making the playoffs in their inaugural season. The team was even better the following season, winning the Supporters' Shield in their second season with star scorer Carlos Vela picking up the Golden Boot. LAFC beat the rival LA Galaxy in the opening round of the MLS Cup playoffs but lost to Seattle in the Western Conference Finals. LAFC is coached by Bob Bradley and will hope to begin filling their trophy case soon.
Los Angeles FC Rivalry: vs. Los Angeles Galaxy. There was a little question when LAFC was founded who their top rival would be. The crosstown Galaxy has been hated rivals from the very start. The teams met in LAFC's third game ever, and LAFC blew a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3, the club's first-ever loss. The Galaxy have dominated the few regular-season meetings, but LAFC has won both playoff matchups so far. This bitter crosstown rivalry is dubbed El Tráfico, a pun on the Spanish rivalry, El Clásico. The teams have only played 10 times, but El Tráfico is already one of the best and most heated rivalries in the MLS.
San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose was one of the MLS charter clubs in 1996, though they were the San Jose Clash to start. The Clash played in and won the first game in MLS history, then eventually changed their name to Earthquakes in 1999. The Quakes have won two Supporters' Shields and two MLS Cups. The team briefly moved to Houston as the Dynamo in 2006 but returned to San Jose in 2008. They play their home games in Earthquakes Stadium in San Jose. Matias Almeyda coaches the Quakes.
San Jose Earthquakes Rivalry: vs. Los Angeles Galaxy. The California Clásico is one of the most historic rivalries in the MLS, pitting Northern and Southern California against one another in a regional and cultural battle. The rivalry was especially strong in the early 2000s when the teams won a pair of MLS Cups and battled for league supremacy. The Galaxy leads the all-time series, but the teams have split 10 MLS Cup playoff matches.
NWSL Betting in California
Angel City FC
Angel City FC is a new expansion team coming to the NWSL in 2022, and they will be the first NWSL team in California. The team has a majority female ownership group led by actor Natalie Portman. Other founding members of Angel City include soccer stars Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, and other names like Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Chastain, Candace Parker, and Lindsey Vonn. Angel City does not have a logo or team colors yet but is expected to release them in 2021 as the team prepares for launch.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Soccer Guide
College Sports Teams
College Football Betting in California
USC Trojans Football
USC is one of the great college football traditions, with the cardinal and gold uniforms among the most iconic in football. USC claims 11 national championships, ranking them among the elite football programs. They were a founding member of the Pac-12 and have won 39 conference championships. Only two of those national championships have come in the past four decades, though, back-to-back titles under Pete Carroll in 2003-04.
The Trojans are also responsible for seven Heisman Trophies, given the most outstanding individual player in college football. USC has more players drafted into the NFL than any other school and the second most Pro Football Hall of Fame alumni with 12. The Trojans have also played in 53 bowl games and have the highest all-time bowl winning percentage among schools with at least 25 appearances. An incredible 39 of those bowl games have come in major New Year's bowls, most frequently the Rose Bowl, of course.
USC plays its home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and there are few things quite like a football game at the Coliseum with the sun setting over the horizon. Clay Helton coaches the Trojans.
USC Trojans Rivalry #1: vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish. You know you're an elite college football program when you're so good that your top rival is not even in your conference. USC and Notre Dame have far too much history to list here, with fingerprints all over a litany of national championship races and college football history in general. This rivalry has been played every year since 1926 outside of World War II and the 2020 pandemic, and it's widely considered the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. The winner gets the Jeweled Shillelagh and, far more importantly, annual bragging rights. Notre Dame leads the all-time series.
USC Trojans Rivalry #2: vs. UCLA Bruins. There may be no matchup in all sports as aesthetically pleasing as the annual USC-UCLA matchup, with USC in Cardinal red and UCLA in Bruin blue. These campuses are only 10 miles apart in Los Angeles, and the teams even shared the LA Memorial Coliseum until 1982, and they share more than a little history and often compete for the Pac-12 berth in the Rose Bowl. The crosstown rivals compete for the Victory Bell, but it's city bragging rights that are really on the line each year. USC leads the all-time series, but this is always a hotly contested game no matter what team's record is coming in.
UCLA Bruins Football
There are the many University of California at (Pick a CA City) schools throughout the state, but there's only one UCLA. The Bruins play their home games at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena and are immediately recognizable in their iconic Bruin blue and gold.
For as much history and tradition as the university has, the UCLA football team doesn't match up to its accomplishments anywhere near that of their men's basketball, men's and women's soccer, or softball teams. The Bruins did one national championship in 1954, but they have a sub-.500 record in 36 bowl games and have only one Heisman winner, Gary Beban. Those numbers don't stack up anywhere UCLA's arch-rival, USC.
UCLA competes in the Pac-12 and is coached by the inventive Chip Kelly. For now, at least, the Bruins are forever longing for the good old days of the 1980s and 90s when UCLA won an NCAA record eight consecutive bowl games. Until then, Bruins fans will have to settle for beating USC.
UCLA Bruins Rivalry #1: vs. USC Trojans. This annual rivalry game may be the most beautiful one in all of college football. No matter which crosstown rival hosts, both teams play in their home uniforms, with UCLA's Bruin blue the perfect complement to USC's Cardinal red. No matter what else happened the rest of the season or what each team's record is, this is always a huge game and almost always closely contested. UCLA and USC are only 10 miles apart and compete in the same conference for the same recruits, often even dividing homes on fandom. The winner gets the Victory Bell but so much more.
UCLA Bruins Rivalry #2: vs. California Golden Bears. The Bear Bowl pits two University of California schools. It is typically played on All-University Weekend when UCLA and Cal play each other in every sport in season all in the same week. This annual rivalry in the Pac-12 is the third-longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football. UCLA dominates the all-time rivalry.
Stanford Cardinal Football
Stanford has a long and rich football tradition and tends to play old-school football, perhaps appropriate since the program has such a long history. Stanford played in the first-ever Rose Bowl in 1902. The Cardinal also claims two national championships in 1926 and 1940 under legendary head coach Glenn "Pop" Warner. Pop Warner isn't the only legendary college coach to wear Cardinal red. Stanford was also home to Bill Walsh and several other excellent coaches.
Stanford has played in 30 bowl games, 15 times in the Rose Bowl. That ranks second-most of any Pac-12 school, where the Cardinal compete. Stanford has one Heisman Trophy winner in Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Plunkett. Still, six other Cardinal players have finished second in the Heisman voting, including John Elway, Andrew Luck, Christian McCaffrey, and Bryce Love. The Cardinal play at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. David Shaw coaches them.
Stanford Cardinal Rivalry #1: vs. California Golden Bears. You know a rivalry is a big deal when they simply refer to the matchup each year as the "Big Game." Stanford and Cal are rivals in every sport, but football reigns supreme, where the rivalry has been played since 1892 and is one of the oldest in the country. The rivalry is accompanied by many other "Big" pregame traditions the week of the game, and the winner takes home the Stanford Axe. The most famous meeting came in 1982 when John Elway led Stanford to a late lead before Cal used a series of laterals on the kickoff return to stunning the Cardinal with the band on the field. Stanford leads the all-time series.
Stanford Cardinal Rivalry #2: vs. USC Trojans. This Pac-12 rivalry dates back to 1905, with the teams playing almost every year since. These are the only two private schools in the Pac-12, though this rivalry has certainly not been much of one until the last decade or when Jim Harbaugh helped turn the tide. The most notable meeting may have been in 2007 when unranked Stanford came into the game as 41-point underdogs to No. 1 USC but pulled off what many call the greatest upset in college football history, winning 24-23. USC still has nearly twice as many head-to-head wins all-time, but Stanford is slowly closing the gap.
Stanford Cardinal Rivalry #3: vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Because Notre Dame remains independent, the Irish continue to maintain intersectional rivalries with cross-country rivals like Stanford. These proud academic schools put on quite a show on the football field, too, as they play annually for the Legends Trophy. The teams typically play early in the season at Notre Dame in even years or the weekend after Thanksgiving at Stanford.
California Golden Bears Football
Cal is typically the worst of California's four big universities in football these days, but it wasn't always this way. The Golden Bears won four straight national championships from 1920 through 1923 and added a fifth in 1937, going unbeaten in all five championship seasons. California has also won 14 conference championships, most recently in 2006. Cal has played in the Pac-12 Conference (or some version of it) since 1916.
Despite its five championships, Cal football is mostly remembered for two of college football's all-time iconic plays. One was simply The Play, the incredible lateral kickoff return win with the band on the field against Stanford. The other was in the 1929 Rose Bowl when Cal center Roy Riegels recovered a fumble but accidentally ran the wrong way down the field, leading to a safety and ultimately the losing margin in an 8-7 game, Cal's only loss of the season.
The Golden Bears play their home games at California Memorial Stadium on campus in Berkeley. Justin Wilcox coaches them.
California Golden Bears Rivalry #1: vs. Stanford Cardinal. Each time these teams meet on a football field, it is simply known as the Big Game." Cal and Stanford are fierce rivals in all sports, but they've played football nearly every year since 1892, the oldest rivalry on the West Coast. The winner of the Big Game gets to keep the Stanford Axe, and Stanford leads the all-time series, but one Big Game stands out from all the rest, thanks to The Play. After Stanford took the lead in the dying seconds of the 1982 Big Game, all the Cardinal had to do was kick the ball off and run out the final few seconds. That's when Cal lateraled, lateraled again, and kept right on lateraling until they were celebrating the winning score in the endzone with the entire Stanford band on the field around them. It is the most iconic moment in college football history.
California Golden Bears Rivalry #2: vs. UCLA Bruins. There are many University of California schools, but this rivalry pits the two biggest athletic programs among them with Berkeley versus Los Angeles. They call it the Bear Bowl and play the game on All-University Weekend to culminate a week-long matchup of Cal and UCLA across every other in-season sport. The California rivals play every season in the Pac-12 and constitute the third longest-running rivalry without interruption in college football. UCLA leads the all-time series.
Fresno State Bulldogs Football
Fresno State is about to celebrate its football centennial since the program began in 1921. The Bulldogs have bounced around conferences over the years but moved from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West in 2012, where they compete today. Fresno State has won 26 conference titles and played in 28 bowl games. The Bulldogs had a famous home win over preseason No. 1 Oregon State in 2001 and nearly did the unthinkable and knocked off Reggie Bush and No. 1 USC in 2005. Fresno State plays its home games on campus at Bulldog Stadium. Kalen DeBoer coaches them.
Fresno State Bulldogs Rivalry: vs. Boise State Broncos. The Battle of the Milk Can not sound particularly scary, but these schools love their agriculture, and California and Idaho are two of the nation's leading dairy states. The Bulldogs and Broncos have played since 1977, meeting more regularly now that the two compete for the top of the Mountain West. Boise State leads the all-time series.
San Diego State Aztecs Football
San Diego State rose to prominence as a football program under Hall of Fame coach Don Coryell, known for his incredible Air Coryell offense. The Aztecs won back-to-back-to-back national championships under Coryell from 1966 through 1968 before joining Division I. San Diego State has become something of a football coaching factory over the years. John Madden, Joe Gibbs, Sean Payton, and Brian Billick all went on to win a Super Bowl as a head coach after spending time as an assistant at San Diego State. The Aztecs were also home to Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk.
San Diego State football almost joined the Big East Conference in 2013 -- yes, that's a West Coast team in a conference called Big East -- but the Aztecs ended up staying in the Mountain West, where they compete today. San Diego State plays its home games at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, but they expect to open the new Aztec Stadium in San Diego in September 2022. Brady Hoke coaches san Diego State.
San Diego State Aztecs Rivalry: vs. Fresno State Bulldogs. The Battle for the Oil Can dates back to 1923, and the Aztecs and Bulldogs played annually for many years before conference realignment disrupted the rivalry. Now that both teams are together again in the Mountain West, the rivalry is back on. One of the most memorable matchups was the "Fog Bowl" in 1962, when the game was so foggy that the announcers had to go onto the field and even in the huddle to call the game, with San Diego State winning a thriller. The Aztecs lead the all-time series.
San Jose State Spartans Football
San Jose State has played football since the 1800s, but the Spartans had their best football era between 1973 and 1992. During those two decades, San Jose State made the AP top 25 for the first time in 30 years and even finished the 1990 season ranked top 25 for the first time. The Spartans have won 16 conference titles but have never won the Mountain West, where they compete now. They've played in 10 bowl games but only three since 1990, though they've won all three of them and seven of 10 overall. The Spartans play at CEFCU Stadium in San Jose and are coached by Brent Brennan.
San Jose Spartans Rivalry: vs. Fresno State Bulldogs. While both the Spartans and Bulldogs have bounced around conferences over the years, they always seem to stick together. That and the close regional ties have made this San Jose State's main rival, and the teams play each year for the Battle of the Valley Trophy. Fresno State leads the all-time series by a small margin.
We've got a few recommended resources to help you bet with insight on college football in California:
- College Football Betting Tips for Profitability
- College Football Betting Tips on Fading the Public
- Action Data/Tools: College Football Odds, Picks, & Projections
College Basketball Betting in California
UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball
No men's basketball program has won more NCAA championships than the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins have played basketball for over a century, but the glory days most certainly came under legendary Hall of Fame coach John Wooden. The Wizard of Westwood led UCLA to 10 national championships between 1964 and 1975, one of the greatest dynasties in American sports history, featuring all-time college greats Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton. The Bruins went undefeated four times in that stretch, including a record 88-game winning streak from 1971 to 1974.
UCLA plays in the Pac-12 and won 13 consecutive regular-season conference titles from 1967 to 1979, the second-longest in Division I history. The Bruins have played in 18 Final Fours, including 10 in a row under Wooden and then three consecutively from 2006 through 2008, their most recent appearance. UCLA also added one other national championship in 1995.
The Bruins play their home games at Pauley Pavilion in the Westwood district of LA. Mick Cronin coaches them. Among the many California universities, UCLA towers over its state as a men's basketball powerhouse.
UCLA Bruins Rivalry #1: vs. USC Trojans. Just like every other sport on the planet, UCLA considers crosstown USC to be its top rival, though the Trojans men's basketball program isn't as strong, leaving this rivalry a bit weaker than in other sports. It wasn't always this way. USC beat UCLA 41 straight times from 1932 to 1943, but then John Wooden showed up, and the rest was history. The rivalry was particularly intense in the 1970-71 season when the Bruins and Trojans were the top-two ranked teams in the nation for most of the season. The Bruins won the national championship that year, of course. UCLA has dominated the all-time series.
UCLA Bruins Rivalry #2: vs. Arizona Wildcats. Sometimes, a rivalry is just about being the best. Since Lute Olson arrived as coach Arizona in 1984, the Bruins and Wildcats won 22 of the next 30 regular Pac-12 Conference championships. They've also won eight Pac-12 Conference Tournaments combined and have faced off in the tourney 10 times. The teams play at least twice each season in the Pac-12, and UCLA leads the all-time series.
UCLA Bruins Rivalry #3: vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The UCLA-Notre Dame rivalry is a unique one in that it is almost entirely a historical one. The rivalry peaked in the 1970s and 80s when Digger Phelps coached Notre Dame when these teams were streak killers. Notre Dame was the last team to beat UCLA in 1971 before the Bruins reeled off 88 consecutive victories only to lose to Notre Dame again in 1974, with the Irish book-ending the 88-game streak. UCLA also broke an Irish 60-game home winning streak. The Bruins lead the closer-than-you to think all-time series, 29-21, though the rivals barely meet up these days.
USC Trojans Men's Basketball
Back in the day, USC men's basketball was a national powerhouse. Sam Barry helped innovate the game during his time coaching the team from 1929 to 1950. The Trojans won nine division titles in years and made their first Final Four in 1940. They made it there again in 1954 but have not been back since, one of the longest droughts for a power conference team. USC competes in the Pac-12 conference, but its men's basketball program does not stack up today with its other elite athletic programs. The Trojans play their home games at the Galen Center in LA and are coached by Andy Enfield.
USC Trojans Rivalry: vs. UCLA Bruins. USC and UCLA are top rivals in every sport, and men's basketball is no exception. The rivalry is not much of a contest these days, but USC once dominated UCLA. When Sam Barry coached the Trojans, USC defeated UCLA 40 consecutive times, still a winning streak by a coach against a single opponent in college hoops history. The teams play at least twice a season in the Pac-12.
California Golden Bears Men's Basketball
The Golden Bears basketball program has seen better days. The Berkeley version of this Cal team made its first Final Four in 1946, then returned in 1959 and 1960. They cut down the nets as national champions in 1959, which is still their only men's basketball title, and the Golden Bears have not been back to the Final Four in six decades. Cal competes in the Pac-12 and is coached by Mark Fox. The Golden Bears play their home games at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.
California Golden Bears Rivalry: vs. Stanford Cardinal. Cal and Stanford are most known for their football rivalry, but these Pac-12 foes are rivals in any sport. Both of these teams are rarely in the national picture, so that takes the luster off from a national standpoint, but the student sections are always crazy and ready to go. Stanford leads the all-time rivalry.
Stanford Cardinal Men's Basketball
The Cardinal is not a particularly decorated men's basketball program today, but Stanford did win a national championship in 1942. That was their only appearance in the NCAA tournament until 1989, though the program rose to prominence again briefly around the turn of the century when they were a 1-seed three times in five seasons and made their only other Final Four in 1998. Stanford competes in the Pac-12, where the Cardinal have won five conference championships. They play at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto and are coached by Jerod Haase.
Stanford Cardinal Rivalry: vs. California Golden Bears. Stanford and California are rivals in every sport. However, the basketball rivalry is a bit more muted nationally because it's been decades since both were truly relevant on a national scale. It's still a big-time rivalry at a local level, though, and Stanford leads the all-time series, which meets at least twice a season in the Pac-12.
San Diego State Aztecs Men's Basketball
San Diego State has risen to prominence and completed its best men's basketball season in school history in 2019-20. The Aztecs were nearly perfect, with 30 wins and only two losses, and would've almost certainly entered the NCAA tournament as a 1-seed and Final Four favorite if the tourney hadn't been canceled due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, San Diego State has never made the Final Four or even the Elite Eight. The Aztecs have only even made the Sweet Sixteen twice, both in the past decade.
To be fair, San Diego State has only even played Division I basketball since 1970. The Aztecs moved to the Mountain West in 1999 and compete in that conference still. San Diego State boasts two-time NBA champion Kawhi Leonard as its greatest basketball alum, though Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn also played Aztec hoops back in the day. The Aztecs play their home games at Viejas Arena on campus in San Diego. Brian Dutcher coaches them.
San Diego State Aztecs Rivalry: vs. UNLV Runnin' Rebels. San Diego State's biggest rivalry used to be with Brigham Young, but that rivalry has gone dormant since BYU left the Mountain West. Now UNLV has become the primary Aztec rival, especially in recent years since UNLV has such a strong home-court advantage, and the teams are so often battling near the top of the Mountain West and play at least twice every season.
St. Mary's Gaels Men's Basketball
St. Mary's has developed a reputation as one of the best mid-major programs, especially on the West Coast. The Gaels would probably be even more well-known if they didn't have Gonzaga blocking their path every year in the West Coast Conference. Still, St. Mary's has played in 10 NCAA tournaments, including five over the past decade. The Gaels have won four tournament games this decade, all of them upsets as a 10-seed or lower. St. Mary's plays its home games in the University Credit Union Pavilion in Moraga. Randy Bennett coaches them.
St. Mary's Gaels Rivalry: vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs. As a Catholic school in the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, and Santa Clara have been more longstanding rivals to the Gaels, but there's little doubt that Gonzaga is St. Mary's top rival today. Gonzaga and St. Mary's have won 10 straight WCC titles and 18 of the past 20, battling every year at the conference's top. The teams play at least twice every season, though they've also played 18 times and counting in the WCC tournament and meet there just about every year.
San Francisco Dons Men's Basketball
You may not know much about San Francisco basketball today, but the Dons won three national championships back in the middle of the 20th century. Two of them were back-to-back in 1955 and 1956 when Hall of Famer Bill Russell put the Dons on his back for two title runs.
San Francisco has the winningest program in the West Coast Conference, no small feat in a conference containing Gonzaga, with 16 regular-season conference championships. The Dons had another memorable run in 1977 when All-American Bill Cartwright led them to a 29-0 start and the No. 1 ranking in the nation. The Dons play their home games at the Hilltop, the War Memorial Gym on campus in San Francisco, and are coached by Todd Golden.
Santa Clara Broncos Men's Basketball
Santa Clara has not played in the NCAA tournament since 1996, but the Broncos have a rich history before that. The Broncos have appeared in 11 NCAA tournaments and made it to the 1952 Final Four, their third straight season with multiple tournament wins. More recently, the 15-seed Broncos pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history when future NBA MVP Steve Nash led Santa Clara to an upset over Arizona.
The Broncos also distinguish being the only team to win both the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and the College Basketball Invitational, two lesser-known postseason tournaments. Santa Clara plays at the Leavey Center in Santa Clara, California, and competes in the West Coast Conference. Herb Sendek coaches them.
Pepperdine Waves Men's Basketball
The aptly-named Waves play near the beaches of Malibu in the Firestone Fieldhouse. Pepperdine hasn't done much on a national level since last making the NCAA tournament in 2002, but the team made the tournament nine times between 1976 and 1994 as regular conference contenders. The Waves even made the Sweet Sixteen twice, in 1962 and 1976. Pepperdine competes in the West Coast Conference and is coached by Lorenzo Romar, now in his second stint with the team after returning in 2018.
Pacific Tigers Men's Basketball
The Tigers were a charter member of the West Coast Conference, left it for four decades in the Big West, and rejoined in 2013. Pacific has won 13 regular-season conference championships and played in the NCAA tournament nine times. The Tigers have won four tournament games, including a 1967 Elite Eight berth and back-to-back years with a win in 2004 and 2005. Pacific boasts former No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Michael Olowokandi as an alum and is coached by former NBA Rookie of the Year, Damon Stoudamire. The Tigers play their home games at the Alex G. Spanos Center in Stockton.
Stanford Cardinal Women's Basketball
Like so many other athletic programs, the Cardinal women's basketball team ranks among the nation's elite. Stanford has played in every NCAA tournament since 1988. All but one of them was under 10-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Tara VanDerveer, who ranks top 10 all-time in most NCAA Division I wins as a basketball coach, men's or women's. VanDerveer led the Cardinal to national championships in 1990 and 1992, and Stanford has made the Final Four 13 times since that first title. The Cardinal play their home games at Maples Pavilion on campus.
USC Women of Troy Women's Basketball
USC made history in 1976 when they became the first Division I team to grant scholarships to female basketball players. That helped them land future Hall of Famers Cheryl Miller and Cynthia Cooper, who led the team to back-to-back national championships in 1983 and 1984 plus another Final Four in 1986. The Women of Troy have not been back to the Final Four since but have been home to some of the all-time great women's basketball players like Miller, Cooper, Lisa Leslie, and Tina Thompson. USC plays its home games at the Galen Center in LA. Mark Trakh coaches them.
We've got a few recommended resources to help you bet smartly on college basketball in California:
- How to Bet on College Basketball
- Trends to Know Before Betting Conference Tournaments
- Action Data/Tools: College Basketball Odds & Picks
College Baseball in California
USC Trojans Baseball
The Trojans are the most successful college baseball program in the country. USC has won 12 national championships, more than double any other college team. All but one of those titles came under Hall of Fame coach Rod Dedeaux, who coached the team for nearly half a century. The Trojans won five straight titles from 1970 to 1974 and have played in 21 College World Series all-time, though the program has come upon a drought with their last title in 1998 and their last World Series appearance in 2001. The Trojans compete in the Pac-12 and play their games at Dedeaux Field on campus in LA, named after their historically dominant coach. Jason Gill coaches the team today.
Stanford Cardinal Baseball
Stanford has played baseball since launching its program in 1892, but the program rose to national prominence under four decades with Coach Mark Marquess. Starting in 1982, Stanford made the College World Series six times over the next decade and 14 times by 2008. The Cardinal won back-to-back national championships in 1987 and 1988, their only two national titles ever, and were World Series runners up three times in 2000-03. The Cardinal compete in the Pac-12 and play their home games at the Sunken Diamond on campus in Palo Alto.
College Softball in California
UCLA Bruins Softball
The Bruins are the most successful softball program in the nation. UCLA has won 12 Women's College World Series championships, more than any other team. They've played in the championship game 22 times and appeared in the Women's College World Series tournament 29 times with an incredible 187 tournament wins all-time, dwarfing the competition. The Bruins play their home games at Easton Stadium on campus in LA. They are coached by former Bruins great and three-time NCAA champion catcher, Kelly Inouye-Perez.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet on Baseball Guide
College Soccer in California
UCLA Bruins Men's Soccer
The Bruins have long been one of the top programs in men's collegiate soccer. UCLA has played in the NCAA tournament 45 times. The Bruins made it to the national championship game in their second playoff appearance, and they've played in nine College Cup finals over the years. UCLA has won four NCAA championships in 1985, 1990, 1997, and 2002. The Bruins' last appearance in the College Cup final was in 2014. UCLA competes in the Pac-12 Conference and plays its games in Wallis Annenberg Stadium in Los Angeles. Ryan Jorden coaches them.
Stanford Cardinal Men's Soccer
The Stanford men's soccer program hasn't quite reached the women's team's dynastic level, but they might well be on their way. The Cardinal first made the College Cup final twice around the turn of the century but became a mini-dynasty when they won three straight NCAA championships between 2015 and 2017. Stanford competes in the Pac-12 and plays its home games at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium on campus in Palo Alto.
Stanford Cardinal Women's Soccer
No women's soccer program has been as hot as the Stanford Cardinal over the past decade, in which Stanford won NCAA championships in 2011, 2017, and 2019 and played in two more finals. Those three titles are second-most in NCAA women's soccer history. Five Cardinal players have won the Hermann Trophy since 2009, given to the nation's top women's soccer player. The Cardinal play their home games at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium on campus in Palo Alto. They are coached by eight-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Paul Ratcliffe. Since 2008, Stanford has only lost more than two regular-season matches one time, a remarkable record.
UCLA Bruins Women's Soccer
The Bruins have consistently been one of the nation's top women's soccer programs throughout this century. UCLA has played in all but one NCAA tournament this century, making the semifinals 11 times and playing in the national championship game five times. Unfortunately, they have a long history of heartbreak so close to the finish line, with one lone championship in 2013, a 1-0 overtime win over Florida State. UCLA competes in the Pac-12 and plays its home games in Wallis Annenberg Stadium on campus in LA.
USC Women of Troy Women's Soccer
The Women of Troy are one of the most successful women's soccer programs. USC has won the College Cup twice, first in 2007 and again in 2016, with those two NCAA championships tying Troy's Women for fourth-most by any program. USC has already established itself as a perennial contender, even though the program has only existed since 1993. USC competes in the Pac-12 and plays its home games at Soni McAlister Field on campus in LA. Kidane McAlpine coaches them.
Recommended Resource: How to Bet On Soccer Guide
NCAA Division I Football & Basketball
|San Jose State Spartans|
|Fresno State Bulldogs|
|Cal Poly Mustangs|
|California Golden Bears|
|San Jose State Spartans|
NCAA Division I Basketball Only
|Long Beach State Beach|
|UC Irvine Anteaters|
|Loyola Marymount Lions|
|UC Riverside Highlanders|
|UC San Diego Tritons|
|UC Santa Barbara Gauchos|
California has plenty of traditional sporting events to entertain sports fans throughout the year with an endless college and pro teams list. But sports don't stop there! In California, they're just getting started:
The 2028 Summer Olympics
California has hosted the Olympics three times. Los Angeles hosted twice previously in 1932 and 1984, while Squaw Valley hosted the 190 Winter Olympics. Now LA will host the Olympics for the third time in 2028, the first Summer Olympics in the U.S. since Atlanta in 1996. Expect plenty of action at all of LA's biggest and most well-known venues, including but not limited to SoFi Stadium, the Rose Bowl, The Forum, the Staples Center, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and Banc of California Stadium. The Olympics could be a serious financial boon to the LA metro area.
NASCAR Cup Series & Formula One Auto Racing
California has been a hub for auto racing and motorsports for many years. The Auto Club 400 is a 400-mile NASCAR Cup Series race held at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and the Sonoma Raceway is another popular track that hosts both NASCAR and IndyCar events. Long Beach has annual IndyCar Series and Formula One events, and there are racing events throughout the state thanks to its year-round fair weather.