While most states with casinos set the legal age at 21, there are also some states where you can gamble at 18. The legal gambling age in US states also varies depending on the type of gambling product. In this guide, we list gambling age by state for all types of gambling activities. You’ll find the states where you can gamble on sports and play casino games at 18. We also explore how the gambling age in the US compares to other countries.
Legal Gambling Age by State in the US
Across the United States, there are big differences to be found in gambling laws. Some states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have legalized gambling in all forms. Other states allow some types of gambling but not others. In comparison, Utah and Hawaii take a hard stance against all real money gambling activities.
To further complicate matters, the legal age to gamble in each state can vary across different gambling activities. States where it is legal to play lottery and bingo usually apply a minimum age of 18, although there are some exceptions. While states with legal casino gaming and sports betting mostly set the minimum legal age as 21. Yet again, variations can be found. In the table below, you will find the legal gambling age by state and product:
|State||Casino||Online Casino||Poker||Sports Betting||Lottery||Bingo|
You will notice that some states have several legal ages listed for a single gambling product. For instance, in New York, the legal casino gambling age is 21, yet the minimum age is just 18 at racinos. While you can play poker and bingo at 18 in Florida’s tribal casinos, but you will need to be 21 to play gaming machines.
States Where You Can Gamble at 18 in Casinos
Many states have a 21+ age requirement to gamble at casinos. Yet there are some states where you can play in casinos at just 18 years of age. In most cases, you will find that the minimum age of 18 applies only at certain tribal casinos. Yet gambling at 18 is also permitted in some commercial casinos that do not serve alcohol. Here are the states where you can gamble at 18 in casinos:
It is worth noting that there are exceptions to be found in the states listed above. For instance, according to Californian state legislation, the legal age to play at casinos is 18. Yet the majority of the state’s casinos set the minimum age at 21, as they serve alcohol. While in Georgia, the minimum casino gambling age is 18, but players can only gamble on cruise ships.
States Where You Can Bet on Sports at 18
Sports betting in the United States used to be illegal in most states under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Yet following a lengthy battle led by the state of New Jersey, the US Supreme Court overturned the federal law in 2018. The monumental decision meant that each state has the right to legalize sports betting.
Since PASPA was overturned, a flurry of states have put legislation in place to legalize sports betting.
By the end of 2019, the first full year of legal and regulated sports betting, 14 states offered legal sportsbooks. Plus, a further nine states and the District of Columbia and Puerta Rico passed legislation to authorize sports gambling. As with casinos, sports betting usually has a minimum legal age of 21. However, there are a select few states where you can gamble at 18 on sports:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- Rhode Island
Of the few states where you can legally place a bet at 18, there are some restrictions to be found. Take New York, for instance. You must be 21 years old to bet on sports in a casino in New York. Yet you can bet on sports legally at 18 at NY racinos. The legal gambling age in Oregon is 18 under state law. Although to place bets in Oregon’s tribal casinos that serve alcohol, you will need to be 21 or above.
Legal Online Gambling Age in the US
As with land-based gambling, online gambling laws in the USA vary by state. Although, the legal age for online gambling is much more clear cut. Online casino gambling is widely restricted across the states. To date, there are just four states with legal online casinos; Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Michigan has also legalized online casino gambling and is due go live soon.
To play with DE, NJ, WV, MI or NJ online casino operators, the legal gambling age is 21. Online sports betting has become more widespread in the states since the overturning of PASPA. As with online casinos, the minimum gambling age in states with legal online sports betting is 21. There is just one exception to the rule. To date, Rhode Island is the only state to allow players to place sports bets online at 18.
To ensure that underage gambling does not take place, legal online gambling sites in the US carry out account verification before allowing you to gamble. So, when you play at the best PA online casino websites, for instance, you will need to provide proof of your age and identity.
Given that many states do not allow online gambling, some players look to offshore gambling sites. You will find that many international gambling sites accept players aged 18 and over. Still, such online casinos and sportsbooks do not operate legally in the US. Given the lack of local regulation and player protection, it is not advisable to play at offshore online gambling sites.
Underage Gambling in the USA
Gaming control boards are responsible for regulating gambling in each state. They exist to protect players and maintain the integrity of the industry. A key part of the regulatory authorities’ role is to prevent underage gambling. While penalties for underage gambling vary from one state to another, they can have severe repercussions for both players and operators.
In New Jersey, for example, anyone caught gambling underage could face a fine of between $500 – $1000. Furthermore, they could face a six-month ban on their driving license. While in Nevada, underage gambling is considered a misdemeanor and you could get a criminal record and face jail time for breaking the rules.
The penalties for operators who allow underage gambling to take place are even more severe. They could face hefty fines and risk losing their license to operate. As such, operators carry out ID checks as standard at land-based gambling sites. Plus, the best US casino sites will require account verification to ensure you meet the gambling age requirements to sign up and play.
Legal Gambling Age Around the World
When compared to other countries, US gambling age laws are quite strict. While the most common gambling age in the US is 21, many other countries set the minimum gambling age at 18. Some other countries follow the same practice as the US by imposing different ages for different gambling products. For example, the minimum gambling age in the UK is 18 for casino and sports betting, while the minimum age to play the lottery is just 16. Here is the minimum gambling age in some other popular markets:
|Country||Legal Gambling Age|
|Macau||Locals21+, Visitors 18+|
|Canada||19+, 18+ inAlberta, Manitoba & Quebec|
There are only a few countries that impose higher minimum gambling age requirements than the USA. In Greece, residents must be at least 23 to gamble. Whereas Portugal’s gambling age is 25. If you want to see how the US compares to other countries, check our guide dedicated to the legal gambling age around the world.
To complete our US legal gambling age guide, we have created a useful FAQ section. We researched the topic thoroughly and found that some questions were commonly raised. As such, we have collated the most frequently asked questions and provided short answers with all the important details.