In most countries, you will not have trouble understanding the minimum legal gambling age to enjoy casino gambling, sports betting, or horse racing activities. This is because the majority of countries just have a national legal gambling age. In the US, however, it is not quite as straightforward. While federal laws state 18 as the minimum legal gambling age, states have the power to enact their own laws.

For that reason, each state will have different legal gambling laws and will even have different ages for different types of gambling. The US legal gambling age info here breaks down the legal ages across states in the US, but this article will take you through the subject in more detail. You will learn about the different legal gambling ages across the US, what forms of gambling you can enjoy, and how both compare to other countries around the world.

What is the Legal Gambling Age in the US?

As mentioned previously, federal law states that you have to be at least 18 years old to gamble in the US. However, as states have the power to enact their own laws, you will find many that have increased the legal gambling age to at least 21. In fact, this is the case in most states if you want to visit casinos, as 18 is the legal age to gamble in casinos in just a handful of states. Those are Washington, California, Oklahoma, Idaho, Montana, Michigan, and Minnesota. In all other states where gambling is legal, you have to be over 21 to enter a casino. Also, don’t forget that some states have banned gambling or at least certain types of gambling altogether.

Legal Gambling Ages Can Also Differ Depending on the Form of Gambling


To add to the confusion, in many states, the legal gambling age will depend on the form of gambling you want to enjoy. An example is Indiana, where you have to be at least 21 to go to a casino, play poker, or participate in sports betting, but just 18 to play bingo, lottery or horse racing. This means you have to learn the age for each type of gambling in your state before you can enjoy it.

Some do have the same age limit across the board. In Nevada, you have to be 21 or over to go to a casino, play poker or bingo, play bets on horse racing, and place sports bets. Amazingly, the only type of gambling illegal there is playing the lottery. As for Montana, all forms of gambling are legal and you have to be 18 or over for all.

As you can see, each state has their own rulings, and this means you have two options if you’re not old enough for a particular type of gambling. You can either wait until you are old enough, or start planning for a long distance move to a state where you can gamble legally.

Can You Enter a Casino Even if You Do Not Plan to Gamble?

Often, online casinos offer up other forms of entertainment and not just gambling. Many will host live shows, music festivals, comedy or nightclubs. Does this mean that if you are under the legal gambling age in your state, you cannot enter to enjoy this additional entertainment?

Unfortunately yes, if the entertainment is on the casino floor or in any bar in the casino, you cannot enter unless you are old enough. The laws are there to stop you from gambling or consuming alcohol if you are not of legal age. It would be impossible for security to police a casino and make sure that no underage gambling or drinking is taking place if they just let people of all ages into the premises.

How do the Legal Gambling Ages in the US Compared to Other Countries?


The legal ages across the states in the US do fall in line with those in other major countries around the world. Some countries are a little more liberal, but in general, no country allows anyone under the age of 18 to gamble legally. In the UK, a country full of things for tourists to do, for instance, you can enjoy most forms of gambling at the age of 18. You can even play the lottery at just 16.

It is similar across many other European countries. For example, Spain and France also allow 18-year-olds to gamble. The lowest is probably Denmark and Estonia, as you can enjoy gambling at the age of just 16 in those countries.

Some countries actually offer different legal gambling ages depending on whether you are a tourist or a citizen. In Macau, tourists over the age of 18 can gamble, but natives must be over 21. That is the same situation in Portugal.

Canada and New Zealand allow gambling at 19 and 20, respectively, while India has different laws depending on the state. As for Russia, only sports betting is legal, but that has a minimum legal age of 18.

The Takeaway

As you can see, if you want to gamble in the US, you must first determine the legal age to do so in your state. You also have to take into account the form of gambling you want to enjoy as the legal age can differ. While you might find that you can visit an online casino at 18, you might have to wait a few more years until you can place sports bets. Once you understand the specific laws in your state, at least you will be armed with that information the next time you want to partake in your favourite form of gambling.

Just make sure that you abide by any laws, as if you are caught underage gambling, you may have to pay a fine at best, or receive a misdemeanor charge at worst. If you are too young to gamble, just wait a few more years until you are old enough.

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