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Legal Gambling Age in the USA

Legal Gambling Age in the USA

Legislators and politicians in different states actively discuss legal gambling age. The US law clearly spells out the conditions regarding the minimum voting (18 years old) and drinking alcohol (21 years old) ages. However, everything is more complicated in the gambling niche. The lowest US gambling age limit varies by region and specific game type. In this article, you’ll learn about the need for these restrictions, how underage players are punished, and what age requirements are put forward in different countries and states.

Why Minimum Gambling Age Exists

Casinos set age limits in accordance with the legal status of a person in society. Until you’re an adult, you mustn’t use slot machines in the USA; your parents or guardians are responsible for the violation. For example, if a minor child collects gambling debts, their parents are legally obligated to pay them off. Casinos also often practice the sale of alcohol to visitors. For this reason, in many states you’re allowed to play legally from the age of 21. There are also regions where Americans of 18 years old or older are allowed to gamble, but only in places where alcoholic drinks are not offered.

Minimum Gambling Age in Different Countries

The minimum gambling age determines how old you can be to legally play in a particular jurisdiction. There are countries with a complete ban on gambling, while in others the restrictions depend on a certain type of game, region, and other factors. The most popular countries with legal gambling have different rules regarding how old to gamble:

  • The United Kingdom. You must be 18 years old; football bets are available from 16 years old.
  • Belgium. You must be 21 years old to play in the casino and 18 years of age to participate in the national lottery.
  • China. All kinds of gambling are prohibited, except for lotteries; they’re available if you’re 18 years old. The exceptions are Hong Kong and Macau, where gambling is allowed from 18 years old and 21 years old, respectively.
  • Spain. You must be 18 years old.
  • Sweden. Playing at the casino is allowed from the age of 20. Other types of gambling entertainment are available if you’re 18 years of age or older.
  • Canada. Playing at the casino is available if you’re 19 years old, except for Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec, where the minimum gambling age is 18 years. The lottery is allowed from 18 years old, with the exception of Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Labrador, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, where the minimum age is 19 years.
  • India. Gambling is allowed from the age of 21, although different states can set their own rules, like in the US.
  • Australia. You must be 18 years of age. Online casinos are banned, although residents are not fined for playing on offshore gambling sites.
  • Japan. You can play in the casino and buy lottery tickets from the age of 20.

If you want to play in an online casino, then there are several ways to find out the minimum age. Age restrictions are usually indicated in the Terms and Conditions section. There can also be an icon in the footer of the gambling site.

 

Online casino accepting players from 18 years old
The icon with age restrictions is available in the footer of the main page

In most European countries, the minimum age to play in a casino is 18 years old. The exceptions are Greece, Estonia, Georgia (except for foreign citizens), as well as Sweden and Belgium mentioned above.

Complex laws apply in Portugal; you can visit some gambling venues from the age of 18, while in others the minimum age is 25 years old. Tougher restrictions apply to local citizens, while tourists can visit brick-and-mortar gambling venues if they’re 18 years of age.

Gambling in the United States is regulated at the federal level. However, the legislation is designed in a way that authorities of various states can independently determine the legitimacy of various games of chance and age restrictions on their territory. Also, the rules differ for land-based gambling establishments and online casinos.

Minimum Gambling Age to Enter Casinos

Native American tribal casinos are not subject to state jurisdiction. They are governed by the Federal Gambling and Indian Regulation Act, so most of them lower the minimum age to 18. The American minimum legal casino gambling age is set separately for tribal venues (18 years old) and all others (21 years old) in some states.

If you’re 18 years of age, you can play in the following states: Michigan, California, Minnesota, Washington, New York, Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, Rhode Island, and Idaho.

Basically, these are gambling venues that don’t sell alcohol. Georgia has strict casino laws, and those over the age of 18 are only allowed to play on cruise ships.

Legal Age to Gamble at Online Casinos

Everything is much simpler with age limits for betting on casino sites. States where online gambling is legal have the same minimum legal age of 21 years. Online casinos are available in Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Other states are already considering legalizing online gambling.

Regulations vary from state to state; in the US, the minimum age to play at a casino can be 18 or 21 years. It is important to know the specific restrictions.

Gambling Opportunity Analysis State by State

The minimum age is affected by the specific state and type of game. Here is a table showing the restrictions depending on these criteria. We won’t list the minimum US legal online casino gambling age by each state, but provide you with 10 regions as an example.

US StateCasinosPoker RoomsSports BettingHorse & Dog RacingBingoLottery
California18-2118-21181818
Delaware212121181818
Louisiana2121181821
Georgia1818181818
Illinois212121181818
Iowa212121212121
Michigan18-211821181818
Minnesota18-2118181818
Nevada21212121
West Virginia212121181818

It doesn’t make sense to give you the list of all states. Legislation is constantly changing, many regions are in the process of legalizing certain types of games of chance.

What Happens if a Player Is Underage

If you’re still a minor, you should understand that if you violate the gambling law, you may be subject to prosecution. In this case, your parents or guardians will also be held liable.

Whether knowingly or unintentionally, you’re committing a crime if you’re not of legal age. The punishment for the offense varies from state to state. In some regions, minors are fined up to $1,000. There may be criminal penalties depending on the severity of the crime.

Parents who allowed their child to play in the casino before reaching the age of majority are also held liable. Therefore, we don’t recommend breaking the laws, especially since in the United States of America legal gambling age at casinos is clearly defined for each state and type of gambling. If during the investigation it turns out that a legal gambling venue deliberately lets a person under the age of 18-21 pass, it will be fined a large amount or even lose its license.

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FAQ

Yes. US law states that you have to pay 25% of the prize amount if it exceeds $1,200 in slots or bingo, $1,500 in keno, or $5,000 in poker tournaments. The same rules apply to online casinos and brick-and-mortar gambling venues.

Casino, sports betting, poker, bingo, and lottery.

Delaware. Online gambling became legal there in 2012.

Its official website should contain information with the document number and the regulator that issued the legitimate license. When you press the validator, you should be redirected to the gambling commission page.

You can visit Native American gambling venues and those that don’t sell alcohol.

Publication author
Donald Peterson
Author of articles
Donald Peterson is an avid gambler from Edmonton, Alberta, who also writes about his experience with casinos. He’s been in the business for over 10 years, following the ever-changing industry landscape. His articles are aimed at helping beginners with choosing casinos, suitable games, and strategies.
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