Legal Gambling Age In America


Legal Gambling Age in the United States Almost every major milestone in our lives is conditioned by an age requirement. To get married or go to war without your parents’ permission, you have to be 18. Before you can drive, you have to turn 16, with the exception of a few states where you can get a driver’s license at the ripe age of 14. Betting ages can be 18 or they can be 21. Check the legal gambling age of your state first before checking the sportsbook, because your state law will supercede that of the sportsbook's gambling age if the sportsbook's age is 18 and the state's is 21. Learn more: Is It Legal To Bet Sports Online? Legal Sports Betting Age + Gambling Age By State. At age 18, a person is considered a legal adult and can vote, play the lottery, and join the armed forces. At age 21, a person can legally drink and buy alcohol and patronize casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. But in many states, people can gamble at age 18—and there’s no better place to host a milestone birthday than a local casino.

To gamble responsibly, a gambler must bear in mind the law.

After all, this isn’t the Wild West.

Most jurisdictions mandate that gambling age is a minimum age that a player can legally gamble. This age varies contingent on the specific state’s laws.

Of course, some areas don’t have casinos for you to sit down for a game of blackjack or roulette. Yet, almost every state offers residents some way to play the lottery.

Legal gambling ages also vary around the world. As you may have guessed, there are some countries where gambling is a big no-no regardless of how many trips you’ve made around the sun.

The Gambling Age for Online Casinos vs Land-Based Casinos

Usually, the minimum legal gambling age starts at 18 years old. Don’t rush out the door just yet, though, youngsters.

Depending on circumstances and state requirements by a gambling commission or applicable laws, these can vary.

Legal gambling age in canada

What category of gambling a game falls under can also play a determining role in what constitutes a legal age. When you make such distinctions of ages and types of markets, you sometimes see a range of legal gambling ages for each.

As far as casinos go, there’s typically a clear distinction between the rules regarding real money online casinos and traditional brick and mortar casinos. Regardless of your gambling endeavor, it’s imperative that you adhere to any guidelines put down for legal gambling ages.

Failing to follow the laws about gambling ages is a double-edged sword.

First, you’ll lose whatever money you are wagering.

Secondly, you’re going to have some legal troubles.

Neither of which is pleasant. In fact, they both sound horrible.

The above holds true for any form of gambling, but it’s particularly applicable in casino gambling.

For the world of online casinos, the legal gambling ages can be, at the least, a bit confusing to follow. Online bingo halls, sportsbooks, poker rooms and casinos all have a seemingly endless train of legalities. Several gambling sites seem to set their own minimum age requirements. So, it’s in their best interest and yours to approach with caution if you think it may pose a problem.

Usually, online casinos will warn you upon entering whether a site is restricted in your area.

Luckily, the rules for land-based casinos are much more transparent. In the United States. The legal gambling age is set state by state. You should keep in mind that different laws apply to tribal casinos and they may have different requirements.

Even types of games like slots and video game machines may have totally different legal gambling ages associated with them.

Besides the numerous rule differences between Indian casinos and those under state or federal jurisdiction, there’s another category of different laws.

Casinos on cruise ships and gambling boats have a whole other set of laws to abide to. Most of the time on a cruise ship, the legal gambling age is 18 years old. That’s a full 3 years younger than most United States land-based casinos.

So, essentially you’re going to have to be at least 18 years old to legally gamble in the United States. Most casinos in the country are going to require that you’re 21 to enter. Of course, they’d prefer to have you in as early as possible.

Oh, Canada – What Kind of Age Requirements Do You Have?

Our cousin to the great north is pretty similar to us when it comes to legal gambling age. Just like the United States, they have their own grey areas.

Online gambling in Canada is regulated on a federal level. There are many online casinos you can sign up for, too.

Any of the casinos in Canada, brick and mortar or online, are required to obtain a government license before opening the doors.

If you’re headed to Manitoba, Alberta, or Quebec you can get in the doors of any casino at 18 years old. Oddly, anywhere else in the country you must be 19 years old.

This follows the same guidelines for drinking. Where the legal age in Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec is 18 and the rest of the country imposes a legal drinking age of 19.

Gambling Ages for Europe

Most European nations have a uniform legal gambling age. Yet, there can be slight variations country to country.

In terms of betting many countries set the legal gambling age at 18 years old. This mirrors the legal gambling ages for lotteries.

Two exceptions being Estonia and Denmark where the gambling age is a mere 16 years old.

Casinos in Europe vary the legal age of customers. Countries like Belgium, Greece, Germany, and Estonia all have a legal casino gambling age of 21. Sweden is a standout at 20 years of age for casino patrons. The other countries have the minimum casino age set at 18 years old.

Countries like Spain and France have recently lowered the legal gambling ages to fall in line with neighboring countries.

Strangely, a few countries have different restrictions. For example, Portugal allows visitors to the country to gamble at 18, while citizens of Portugal must be 21 to gamble.

Malta has a unique situation of their own. Let me be clear, Malta has one of the most outstanding gambling licenses on the planet, provided by the Malta Gaming Authority. In fact, Malta is a hub for many online casinos.

But the legal gambling age in Malta is 18 for tourists. The Maltese residents must be over the age of 25.

Gambling Age in the UK

The Gambling Commission handles and regulates all gambling in the UK. Everything from the licenses to the vast gambling forms is handled by the GC. The UK has a uniform legal gambling age of 18. This age requirement applies to all bingo halls, casinos, betting shops, racetracks and online gambling. This includes online UK casinos.

The minimum age for lotteries including football (soccer) pools and the National Lottery is only 16 years old. The 16 year old requirement also applies to games like coin pushers, claw grabbers and some low stakes gambling machines.

Oceania – Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have a multitude of differences between them. Australia has strict gambling laws.

18 years old is technically the legal gambling age, but not all forms of gambling are legal. The only gambling you’re going to enjoy down under is sports betting or lotteries. There are no online casinos or live betting here.

Of course, many of our Aussie mates have found a loophole. You see, there aren’t any laws prohibiting Aussie citizens from taking advantage of overseas online gambling casinos. So, many Australians simply login to their favorite casino and pass the hours playing real money blackjack with their European friends.

What a time to be alive.

New Zealand has a minimum gambling age of 20 years old. They also have more direct rules about online gambling. Residents of New Zealand are allowed under the current laws to access online casinos from overseas. Yet, if you own one of these companies you are strictly prohibited from advertising your services in New Zealand.

So, it’s similar to the tobacco companies in the United States. Sure, you can buy their product. They can definitely sell their product. However, you won’t see any tobacco commercials on tv or hear them on the radio.

Gambling Age in India

India’s gambling laws are similar to those in the United States. The different Indian states have their own laws and regulations concerning gambling and gambling ages.

Basically, if you’re over 21 years old, gambling is legal.

Online gambling has been legalized in 2 states in India — one is Sikkim, and the other is Nagaland. This really doesn’t matter though, because residents of India don’t have any laws expressly banning their play on online casinos that are offshore.

So, again with the savvy gamblers finding loopholes to get in their gaming fix.


Let’s face it.

That’s a lot of information, and it can be overwhelming if you try to process it all.

The important aspect is to look at the gambling ages in all of the casinos of the world.

If you are itching to get in the casinos or can’t wait to introduce your son or daughter to the wondrous world of casinos, it’s in your best interest to just check the local laws before you go.

These days, laws are constantly being changed to fit the times, and what is the case today, may well be different in 6 months.

Gambling Law: An Overview

Gambling, though widespread in the United States, is subject to legislation at both the state and federal level that bans it from certain areas, limits the means and types of gambling, and otherwise regulates the activity.

Congress has used its power under the Commerce Clause to regulate interstate gambling, international gambling, and relations between the United States and Native American territories. For example, it has passed laws prohibiting the unauthorized transportation of lottery tickets between states, outlawing sports betting with certain exceptions, and regulating the extent to which gambling may exist on Native American land.

Each state determines what kind of gambling it allows within its borders, where the gambling can be located, and who may gamble. Each state has enacted different laws pertaining to these topics. The states also have differing legal gambling ages, with some states requiring the same minimum age for all types of gambling, while for others, it depends on the activity. For example, in New Jersey, an 18-year-old can buy a lottery ticket or bet on a horse race, but cannot enter a casino until age 21. Presumably, the age 21 restriction is due to the sale of alcohol in that location.

A standard strategy for avoiding laws that prohibit, constrain, or aggressively tax gambling is to locate the activity just outside the jurisdiction that enforces them, in a more 'gambling friendly' legal environment. Gambling establishments often exist near state borders and on ships that cruise outside territorial waters. Gambling activity has also exploded in recent years in Native American territory. Internet-based gambling takes this strategy and extends it to a new level of penetration, for it threatens to bring gambling directly into homes and businesses in localities where a physical gambling establishment could not conduct the same activity.

Internet Gambling

Federal Regulation

Legal Gambling Age In America

In the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was growing rapidly in popularity, online gambling appeared to represent an end-run around government control and prohibition. A site operator needed only to establish the business in a friendly offshore jurisdiction such as the Bahamas and begin taking bets. Anyone with access to a web browser could find the site and place wagers by credit card. Confronted with this blatant challenge to American policies, the Department of Justice and Congress explored the applicability of current law and the desirability of new regulation for online gambling.

In exploring whether an offshore Internet gambling business taking bets from Americans violated federal law, attention was focused on the Wire Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1084 (2000). The operator of a wagering business is at risk of being fined and imprisoned under the Wire Act if the operator knowingly uses a 'wire communication facility' to transmit information related to wagering on 'any sporting event or contest.' 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a). An exception exists if that act is legal in both the source and destination locations of the transmission. § 1084(b). The Wire Act’s definition of “wire communication facility” appears to embrace the nation's entire telecommunications infrastructure, and therefore probably applies to online gambling. See § 1081.

The Department of Justice maintains that, under the Wire Act, all Internet gambling by bettors in the United States is illegal. U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Hearing on Establishing Consistent Enforcement Policies in the Context of Online Wagers, 110th Cong., Nov. 14, 2007 (testimony of Catherine Hanaway, U.S. Attorney (E.D. Mo.), Dept. of Justice). The Fifth Circuit disagreed, ruling that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting, not other types of gambling. In re MasterCard Int’l Inc., 313 F.3d 257 (5th Cir. 2002).

In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which made it illegal for wagering businesses to knowingly accept payment in connection with unlawful Internet gambling (though it does not itself make Internet gambling illegal). 109 Pub. L. 109-347, Title VIII (Oct. 13, 2006) (codified at 31 U.S.C. §§ 5301, 5361–67). It also authorizes the Federal Reserve System to create regulations that prohibit financial transaction providers (banks, credit card companies, etc.) from accepting those payments. See 31 U.S.C. § 5363(4). This Act, along with threats of prosecution under the Wire Act from the Department of Justice, has caused several Internet gambling businesses to withdraw from the U.S. market.

In response, House Representatives introduced multiple bills in 2007 to soften federal Internet gambling law. If passed, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act and the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act would license, regulate, and tax Internet gambling businesses rather than prohibit them from taking bets from the United States. Alternatively, the Skill Game Protection Act would clarify the Wire Act to exempt certain games such as poker and chess.

State Regulation

In addition to federal measures, some states have enacted legislation to prohibit some types of Internet gambling. In 2006, Washington State amended its Code to make knowingly transmitting or receiving gambling information over the Internet a felony. See Wash. Rev. Code § 9.46.240 (2006). Other states with similar prohibitions have made it a misdemeanor instead. See e.g., 720 ILCS 5/28-1 (2007).

Legal Age For Gambling In America

States have not been particularly active in enforcing these laws, possibly due to a conflict with the dormant Commerce Clause doctrine. That doctrine theorizes that state law applying to commerce outside the state’s borders is unconstitutional because that power lies with federal, not state, government. In particular, federal preemption has obstructed states’ attempts to regulate gambling activity on Indian reservations within state borders. See Missouri ex rel. Nixon v. Coeur D’Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102 (8th Cir. 1999). The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. § 29 (2000), governs gambling activity on Indian reservations, but the extent to which it and other federal gambling laws preempt state action in the Internet arena is uncertain.

Legal Gambling Age In Canada

menu of sources

Federal Material

Legal Gambling Age In California

U.S. Constitution and Federal Statutes

  • U.S. Code: Title 15, Chapter 24: Transportation of Gambling Devices
  • U.S. Code: Title 15, Chapter 57, Interstate Horseracing
  • U.S. Code: Title 18, Chapter 50: Gambling
  • U.S. Code: Title 18, Chapter 61: Lotteries
  • 18 U.S.C. §1953 (Interstate Transportation of Wagering Paraphernalia Act)
  • 18 U.S.C. §1955 (Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1970)
  • 25 U.S.C. §§2701-2721 (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act)
  • U.S. Code: Title 28, Chapter 178: Professional and Amateur Sports Protection
  • Code of Federal Regulations: Title 25, Chapter 3: National Indian Gaming Commission, Department of the Interior
  • Proposed Internet Gambling Prohibition Act of 1997 (not passed)

Federal Judicial Decisions

  • Greater New Orleans Broadcasting Association, Inc. v. United States, 527 U.S. 173 (1999)
  • Ratzlaf v. United States, 510 U.S. 135 (1994)
  • Chickasaw Nation v. United States, 534 U.S. 84 (1999)

State Material

Other References

  • '14 Charged in Internet Betting' (Washington Post, March 5, 1998)

Legal Gambling Age In America Compared

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