Each jurisdiction in the world sets a different legal gambling age. Yet, because there are so many places around the world and in the United States where you can gamble, the question “How old do you have to be to go to casino and gamble?” keeps cropping up.
To help you find out more about the gambling age in your jurisdiction, we have put together a comprehensive guide to the gambling age by state in the USA as well as other popular gambling hubs around the world.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Gamble in the United States?
The legal gambling age in the United States varies depending on the state and the activity you want to gamble on. Usually, this is either 18 or 21, in most states in the U.S. and certainly in Nevada.
The gambling age in Vegas is 21 for all available activities, including casinos, poker, and pari-mutuel betting. We have put together a table you can use to reference the gambling age by state in the USA.
|Legal Gambling in the USA||Casino||Poker||Sports Betting|
|Georgia||18 (on cruise ships)||18||–|
|South Dakota||18 (at tribal casinos)||–||–|
|South Carolina||21 (on cruise ships)||18||–|
Legal Gambling Age: How Old Do I Need to Be to Gamble in Each State?
As mentioned, the legal gambling age will vary across different states in the USA. Each state is its own jurisdictions and, while federal laws apply, gambling is a strict state affair. Therefore, lawmakers are free to seek consensus on the gambling age.
To gamble for real money in the United States today you have to be either 18 or 21. However, there are some specific exemptions for tribal casinos. While commercial casinos may only admit you if you are 21, a tribal casino may allow you to enter on 18, because they enjoy sovereignty.
Presently, there are 35 states where you can only gamble if you are 21+ and 22 states that allow 18+ individuals to enter and gamble.
Why Do Americans Have to Wait Until 21 in Most Cases to Gamble?
The gambling age is set at 21 for a reason that most likely has to do with how the law interprets an individual’s legal status in society. Until a person is an adult, which is usually 21, they are the responsibility of their parents.
In other words, if an individual were to gamble and rack up a huge gambling debt, his parents would be legally obligated to pay for him or her. That’s why in most cases, the gambling age in the USA is set at 21, although this has been adjusted in some states depending on the activity and at what age an individual is considered an adult.
Popular Destinations Around the World and the Gambling Age There
Countries around the world are free to set their own specific limits and restrictions on gambling and, by extension, on the legal gambling age. While the United States has over 2,200 casinos today, there are other countries where gambling is legalized and there is a legal age that individuals must meet to participate.
- Gambling age: 18
The United Kingdom is one of the most liberal markets in the world when it comes to gambling. The legal gambling age is 18.
- Gambling age: 18
Australia allows individuals as young as 18 to gamble and participate in sports betting and casino gambling products. However, online gambling is restricted in the country with some exceptions for sports and horse racing betting.
Hong Kong and Macau
- Gambling age: 18
While China doesn’t officially allow any type of gambling, other than the national lottery, both Hong Kong and Macau are considered special administrative regions where gambling activities are permitted.
- Gambling Age: 16-21
Europe consists of many different jurisdictions where gambling is always different. Most countries agree that 18 is a good age, but some, such as Estonia and Denmark allow individuals as young as 16 to participate in certain betting contests. Portugal, on the other hand, expects gamblers to be at least 21 years of age.
Should I Gamble If I Am Not of the Legal Age?
Underage gamblers should know that they might be legally prosecuted or could put their guardians or parents in trouble with the authorities.
For all intents and purposes, an individual who doesn’t meet the requirements for legal gambling age is committing a crime, whether knowingly or unwittingly and whether the crime is facilitated by underground gambling rings or otherwise.
Interestingly, you can gamble through offshore operators who tend to provide a variety of online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks even if they don’t have a license to operate in your state/country.
This can be an alternative if you are not yet over the age of 21 as you’ll find that many of them only have an 18+ age requirement. However, you should always double-check with your local state authorities that it’s legal to do so.