Minimum Age to Gamble in the United States of America


Although entertaining, gambling is a risky activity for two reasons: it implies money management, and it can lead to addiction. That is why it involves age limits all over the world, in every country whose government recognizes it as legal, that is.

Fulfilling age requirements is crucial, as gambling calls for responsibility, and minors are not considered capable of taking it. Therefore, only people over 18 and 21, depending on the laws of a certain region, are eligible for gambling.

Furthermore, the activity does not involve casino gambling exclusively. There are numerous forms of gambling, and each of them implies specific laws. Just because a country has legalized one, it does not mean that all of them are legal. Even online gambling and its land-based counterpart frequently differ in terms of laws and regulations.

In the following lines, we will discuss the subject of legal gambling age in the United States of America, including the unincorporated territory Virgin Islands, the island of Puerto Rico, and the Columbia District. Additionally, we will elaborate on the topic of the lawfulness of gambling in the country in general. Finally, we will review the attitude the government has about different forms of gambling.

Lawfulness of Gambling Forms by State

A total of 48 states in America have legalized one or several forms of gambling. The remaining two, Utah and Hawaii, recognize all of them as illegal, without any exceptions.

The subject of gambling in the United States is rather obscure. It was mainly regulated by the Interstate Wire Act, which the Congress passed in 1961, until recently. Its main purpose was to prevent interstate sports betting. However, every state reserves the right to regulate the activity in its own way. For instance, many states decided to legalize betting on fantasy sports events, claiming it is not an actual sport. Essentially, it is the constitution of every state that regulates gambling and determines its expansion.

When Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992, the expansion of sports betting stopped nationwide. The only four exceptions to the Act were Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. Those states were the only ones that had already legalized certain forms of sports betting.

cards gambling

Since the Interstate Wire Act served as a reference point in terms of gambling in general, this left a lot of room for interpretation as to whether this stretches to online gambling as well. The Act is outdated, and the online gambling market began to expand only as of recently. Although it is the states that regulate how online gambling works within their territories, it was not until 2006 that it was officially addressed. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) accepts all forms of interstate gambling that have been legalized by state law. There are two requirements a person needs to fulfill in order to engage in online gambling — they need to verify their location and age. The latter is the main subject of this article, which brings us to the next chapter.

General Information

  • A total of 48 states have regulated at least one form of gambling.
  • Lottery represents the most widely popular gambling form in America.
  • Only three states allow online gambling so far.
  • Online gambling is still rather obscure in the United States.
  • Online poker rooms are fully legals only inDelaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.
  • Online casino gaming is fully legal only in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania
  • Two of the most crucial acts that affect gambling directly are the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006.

Minimum Gambling Age by State

Essentially, the legal gambling age is determined by the Federal Law, and it includes a number of factors. However, every casino reserves the right to establish its own age limit. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, inform on the age limits the local casinos apply.

In general, people under 21 are not allowed to engage in gambling activities. However, there are some states that elected minimum age of gambling to be 18. The states are as follows; Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. Furthermore, there are some states that allow casinos to decide on the minimum gambling age (given that it is not below 18), and they are; California, Florida, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington.

Closing Thoughts

Although the subject of gambling in the USA can seem confusing, there are some general rules you must abide by. Prior to engaging in any form of gambling, you need to gather information regarding age restriction. It depends on the region you are in. However, note that a casino can demand that you are at least 21 regardless of the fact that the state allows everyone over 18 to gamble. Moreover, it is very important that you educate yourself on the gambling laws in your state of residence, and whether you can gamble at all, especially when it comes to online gambling. We have already established that only three states have regulated it fully.

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