Legal Gambling Age By State

Legal Gambling Age By State

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The minimum gambling age in the US varies by each state, as each state has its own laws regulating or prohibiting different types of gambling. Each state generally sets its own gambling age.

However, tribal casinos across the country operate under Federal Indian Gaming Regulations and state compacts, not state laws, which means they set their own gambling age. That’s why many tribal casinos have the lowest gambling age in the country at 18. That said, the legal gambling age in most states is between 18 and 21 and it often varies by gambling activity, which means it could be different for sports betting, the state lottery, or casino gambling.

Continue reading for a complete guide to gambling age minimums across the United States, including a state-by-state breakdown and a detailed look at the most prevalent gambling age laws across the country.

How old do you have to be to gamble in the United States?

The minimum age for gambling in the United States is usually between 18 and 21, but it varies by state and gambling activity. Here’s a look at how old you have to be for every US state by gambling activity:

StateSports BettingCasinoPokerBingoLotteryHorse or Dog Racing
(varies by property)
(varies by property)
Colorado 182121181818
(varies by property)
(varies by property)
New Hampshire182118181821
New Jersey212121181818
New Mexico212121Open1818
New York212121181818
North Carolina212121211818
North Dakota182121181818
Rhode Island182121181818
South Dakota212121211818
South CarolinaN/A21181818N/A
West Virginia212121181818

What states can you go to a casino at 18?

Here’s a look at the states with casinos that are 18+:

  • California casinos: At some California card rooms and tribal casinos the legal age is 18.
  • Florida casinos: The legal age for poker and bingo inside Florida tribal casinos is 18, but it’s 21 for casino games.
  • Georgia casinos: Georgia doesn’t have land-based casinos but the legal age for gambling on its offshore cruises is 18.
  • Idaho casinos: The minimum gambling age at all Idaho casinos is 18, but there are properties that are 21+.
  • Michigan casinos: There are tribal casinos in Michigan where the minimum gambling is 18, but it’s 21 at commercial casinos in Detroit.
  • Minnesota casinos: The minimum gambling age in Minnesota is 18, although there are only a limited number of games at casinos.
  • Montana casinos: Tribal casinos are 18+ in Montana.
  • Oklahoma casinos: Oklahoma’s tribal casinos are 18+.
  • Washington casinos: Washington’s tribal casinos are 18+.
  • Wyoming casinos: Tribal casinos are 18+ in Wyoming.

Will Nevada ever lower the minimum age to 18?

A bill aiming to lower Nevada’s legal gambling age to 18 was introduced in 2017, with its sponsor claiming that if you’re old enough to serve in the military you should be old enough to gamble in Las Vegas. It met the same fate as similar legislation from a decade earlier, dying without much consideration.

Nevada lawmakers see lowering the gambling age as an idea fraught with issues and without many benefits, considering most 18-year-olds don’t have much money to gamble with anyway. Plus, the casino industry has never supported the idea, mostly because of issues surrounding alcoholic beverage service and problem gambling.

Apparently, the last thing casinos want is any confusion surrounding guests being able to gamble, but not order alcoholic beverages, or more problem gambling issues.

With little political or casino industry support for the idea, it’s unlikely Nevada will ever lower the minimum gambling age to 18.

Who regulates the gambling industry?

In the United States, each state has its own set of laws either regulating or prohibiting different types of gambling. States that do permit casino gaming generally have a gaming control board that oversees the state’s regulation of the industry. Otherwise, states may employ just a lottery board or horse racing association to regulate limited gaming activity like a state lottery or pari-mutuel betting on horse races.

When someone says gambling regulation is a state responsibility, they mean that the federal government allows each state to make their own decision on regulating or prohibiting gambling, even though many forms of illegal gambling are federal crimes.

Does the gambling age differ for online gambling?

In 2021, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, and West Virginia were the only US states with legal and state-regulated online casinos. Although, various other states have legal and regulated online and mobile sports betting, and there’s legal and regulated online poker in Nevada.

The legal gambling age in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, and West Virginia is 21, with the legal online gambling age being the same for online casinos in these states. However, two states do differ in minimum ages for live casino gambling and online and mobile sports betting. These states are Colorado and New Hampshire, where the legal gambling age at casinos is 21, but you can bet on sports with online and mobile sportsbooks if you are 18 or older.

What happens if I’m an underage gambler?

Each state can set its own minimum age requirement for gambling and therefore its own consequences for underage gambling.

In most states, minors caught and convicted of underage gambling will end up with a fine of up to $1,000 and may have their driver’s license suspended for up to six months. They may also face possible prison time and a permanent criminal record. Underage gambling is generally a misdemeanor and parents who allow their minor child to gamble can also be found guilty of a misdemeanor, and possibly even have the child removed from their custody.

If it is discovered that a licensed casino knowingly allowed someone underage to gamble, the casino will be fined and may lose its license.