March 13, 2023 5 min read

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How Old Do You Have to Be to Gamble in USA?

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 of “How old do you have to be to gamble?” keeps cropping up.

This is often a tricky one to answer because, in the USA, the minimum gambling age varies depending on which state you are in. Each state has its own gambling regulatory body which has their own rules set for each category of gambling too.

Below, you’ll find exactly how old you need to be to gamble in a casino, play real money poker, and bet on your favorite sports in the United States, as well as in other jurisdictions around the world.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Gamble in the United States?

StateCasino PokerSports Betting
Alabama2121
Alaska21
Arizona212121
Arkansas212121
California18-2118-21
Colorado212121
Connecticut211821
Delaware212121
Florida2118
Georgia18 (on cruise ships)18
Hawaii2121
Idaho1818
Illinois212121
Indiana212121
Iowa212121
Kansas212121
Kentucky
Louisiana212121
Maine2121
Maryland212121
Massachusetts2121
Michigan18-211821
Minnesota1818
Mississippi212121
Missouri2121
Montana181818
Nebraska2121
Nevada212121
New Hampshire211818
New Jersey212121
New Mexico212121
New York212118
North Carolina212121
North Dakota18-2118-2121
Ohio18-2121
Oklahoma18-2118-21
Oregon2118-2121
Pennsylvania212121
Rhode Island181818
South Dakota18 (at tribal casinos)21
South Carolina21 (on cruise ships)18
Tennessee21
Texas2121
Utah2121
Vermont
Virginia211821
Washington181818
West Virginia212121
Wisconsin212121
Wyoming212118
‘-‘ = activity has not yet been legalized or launched within the state

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 U.S. states. The gambling age in Vegas is 21 for all available activities, including casinos, poker, and pari-mutuel betting.

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 at 18, because they enjoy sovereignty.

While some states forbid casino gambling under 21, young adults that are 18 or older can still enjoy activities such as bingo, keno, lottery, and more.

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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.

Minimum Gambling Age for the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, and Europe

Countries around the world are free to set their own specific limits and restrictions on gambling and, by extension, on the legal gambling age. Currently, the United States has 981 commercial and tribal casinos today, according to the American Gaming Association. Still, there are plenty of other jurisdictions around the globe that have legalized gambling and introduced different age restrictions. Here are some popular locations that offer gambling around the world:

United Kingdom

  • 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.

Australia

  • 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: 21

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.

Europe

  • 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.

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.

Lead Editor

Mike made his mark on the industry at a young age as a consultant to companies that would grow to become regulators. Now he dedicates his weekdays to his new project a the lead editor of GamblingNews.com, aiming to educate the masses on the latest developments in the gambling circuit.

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