Legal Gambling Age in the US 2022

posted by Theodora
November 1, 2022

One of the most common questions about casinos regards the legal gambling age in the US. This is no surprise, as laws and regulations vary from state to state. To make things easier, we’ve created this guide that will answer all of your questions. We’ll be covering the legal age of gambling by state for land-based casinos, poker rooms, bingo, lottery and much more. We’ve also touched upon the new regulations on online gambling and, of course, the special case of Native American casinos. In short, this is an all-around American gambler’s guide. So, if you’re wondering what the legal gambling age is in your state, buckle up! We’re going to take you on a journey across all of the US to find out the legal age for gambling everywhere and much more. 

The legal gambling age varies across the US due to different regulations. You might find that some types of gambling are allowed, while others are restricted. To put it simply, you can play the lottery in Colorado if you’re 18, but you’ll have to wait until you’re 21 to enter a real casino. There are some interesting exceptions regarding gambling legal age, as you’ll see in the following table. It contains the minimum age requirement in every state, so go ahead and find yours:

US StateCasinoPoker RoomsBingoLotteryHorse RacingPari-mutuel
Alabama21211818
Alaska2119
Arizona212118212121
Arkansas212118181818
California18-21 18-2118181818
Colorado212118181818
Connecticut212118181818
Delaware212118181817
Florida211818181818
Georgia18 (Cruises only)18181818
Hawaii2121181818
Idaho181818181818
Illinois212118181818
Indiana212118181818
Iowa212121212121
Kansas212118181821
Kentucky18181818
Louisiana212118211818
Maine212116181818
Maryland212118181818
Massachusetts212118181818
Michigan18-213218181818
Minnesota181818181818
Mississippi2121181818
Missouri212118181818
Montana181818181818
Nebraska212118191918
Nevada21212121
New Hampshire211818181821
New Jersey212118181818
New Mexico2121181818
New York212118181818
North Carolina21212818
North Dakota212118181818
Ohio212116181818
Oklahoma181816181818
Oregon211818181818
Pennsylvania212118181818
Rhode Island212118181818
South Dakota18 (Native American Casinos)
South Carolina21 (Cruises only)181818
Tennessee1818
Texas212121181821
Vermont2121
Virginia2118181818
Washington181818181818
West Virginia2121181818
Wisconsin2121181821
Wyoming2121181818

You might notice that the state of Tennessee is missing the gambling legal age requirements for casino gambling. This is because this particular state has no land-based casinos. When looking at the table and noticing missing data, this is the most likely explanation. 

The last column of this table mentions pari-mutuel gambling. This is a unique form of betting where you place your betting on the racer you wish to back. The payoff to winners is made from the pool of all bets placed, after deduction of the operator’s commission and tax. This system allows any number of gamblers to win and is a “winner takes it all” system. Examples of sports where pari-mutuel betting is used are horse racing, greyhound racing and jai alai. One thing they all have in common is that the race’s duration is relatively short. The legal age of gambling in this category is usually lower. 

What about the Legal Gambling Age on Cruises?

The “Cruises only” betting in casinos is accepted in South Carolina and Georgia. This means that even if you do have the legal age for gambling in the respective state, you can gamble only in casinos that operate on ships, when the boat sails out of the state’s territory. Interesting, right? Well, the fun facts about the legal gambling age don’t end here. Additionally, on Native-American-owned land, the legal gambling age and other restrictions are usually regulated by Native authorities. Native reservations have tribal sovereignty, therefore states have limited access to controlling the gambling there. This is because of the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act of 1988.

How is the Legal Age for Gambling Set?

You’ve figured out by now that the legal gambling age in US is a quite interesting, although maybe confusing topic. Each state has the opportunity to set its’ gambling restrictions, and this means authorities can choose the legal age of gambling as they see fit. Typically, you can say the minimum US legal age of gambling is 18 in most states. This, however, depends on what activity you’re wishing to partake in. Many states won’t allow people under 21 years old to enter casinos, for example. However you might’ve also noticed there’s two possible legal ages for gambling in some states. So how does that work?

To put it simply, some states allow their casinos to choose their own age restrictions regarding gambling legal age. You’ll see that in Michigan and California, for example. Here the legal age of gambling comes down to the casino’s preference. This decision is also influenced by factors such as alcohol consumption in casinos. While the legal age for gambling in a state can be 18 years old, the legal drinking age is still 21 years old. There are quite a few factors influencing the legal gambling age by state, so in states where it varies from casino to casino your best bet is to check beforehand. 

What is the Minimum Legal Age to Go to a Casino in the US?

We’re now going to take a look at the minimum legal age in the US to go to a casino. Down below you’ll find a list of states where the minimum legal age for casino gambling is 18 years old. While there is no centralized US gambling legal age, these states allow 18 year olds to partake in casino gambling and other such activities. 

  • California
  • Florida (bingo & poker at Native casinos);
  • Idaho
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin (only at 2 Native casinos)
  • Wyoming

You’ll notice that in these lists there are states where tribal gambling is dominant. This is because of the Indian Gambling Regulatory act we’ve mentioned before. There are over 500 tribal casinos all over the US that submit to their own restrictions and regulations, including those regarding the legal age for gambling. For example, over 60 such venues can be found in California alone. 

What are the Gambling Markets Available in the US?

Now that you know what the legal gambling age is and what it depends on, let’s look at the options. Just like in any other place in the world, there are several gambling markets in the United States. We’ll start with the most popular ones and continue from there. 

Online Casino Games

Firstly you’ll find casinos, which have been the subject of inquiries about the US legal gambling age. Be it online slots, online blackjack, or other online casino games – Americans love the rush of a gamble. There’s land-based casinos in every state in the country and even in reservations. Gamblers often choose this option because of the atmosphere, variety of games to choose from and, of course, the unparalleled experience of a real casino. Another option is visiting casinos on cruise ships, where regulations might vary. As you’ve seen above, you can do that in South Carolina and Georgia.

Poker

Another gambling market that took the US by storm is poker. The card game gained huge popularity in the early 2000s and it’s still widely played in every state. Of course, things have changed a bit, now you can even play online poker. However, poker rooms are still going strong and they do not seem to lose popularity anytime soon. There are many options in the US, especially in California and the plethora of New Jersey poker rooms. Usually, the legal gambling age in this category is set at 21. 

Sports Betting

Sports betting is another one of Americans’ favorite gambling markets. Nowadays it is gaining popularity due to the Supreme Court giving each state the authority to legalize sports gambling. NFL, NBA, NHL and other sports are some of gamblers’ favorites to bet on. Don’t forget that since it is a gambling activity regulated by each state, you still have to check the legal age for gambling in your area. There’s a lot of states that have regulated sports betting activities, with Nebraska, Florida and Maryland pending.

North Carolina is an interesting case, as it has limited sports betting to tribal casinos. Some tribes in New Mexico and Wisconsin also offer sports betting under the Class III gaming compact. New Jersey is arguably one of the most generous when it comes to online sports betting, where you can place your wagers at over two dozen virtual casinos, including at DraftKings casino NJ, FanDuel casino NJ, and BetMGM online casino NJ.

Bingo

An activity you might’ve not expected to find on here is online bingo. However, this classic game is played both locally and online by countless Americans. This game is often associated with church communities and aged care centers, however it is seen as a form of gambling when people are wagering money to play. In some states that might not even allow other forms of gambling bingo is legal, which only contributed to its uprise in popularity. While it might not be your first option, it certainly can be a fun activity. Moreover, the legal age of gambling when it comes to bingo is usually 18 years old.

Lottery

We can’t forget the classic lottery either. Lotteries are hugely popular in the US and the jackpots keep getting bigger and bigger, reaching huge sums of money. When it comes to the legal gambling age, most US states have laws that allow 18 year old individuals to place tickets. There are a handful of exceptions though, so don’t forget to check the laws in your state! The idea of wagering a small sum of money and having the opportunity to win a huge jackpot is, of course, appetizing. This is why lottery gambling is still going strong in the US. Moreover, you’ll find that some online casinos offer instant-win games, such as online scratch games, which are based on pure luck.

Pari-mutual Betting

The last on our list is pari-mutuel betting, which is offered in almost every US state. Horse racing, greyhound racing and other such races belong under this umbrella. There’s only a handful of states that prohibit all forms of pari-mutuel betting, these being Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah. 

Is the Legal Age for Online Gambling Different?

When players decide to go online, the situation changes a tad bit. This is because only a handful of US states allow online gambling. This means that in these states you will find state-regulated online casinos that operate under the current laws. As of 2021, the states in question are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, West Virginia and Nevada. Concerning the legal age for online gambling, that depends on the state too. You’ll find that gambling legal age for online casinos is usually the same as for land-based casinos. Of course, there can be exceptions, but we haven’t encountered any as of today. So, as a rule of thumb, the legal gambling age for online casinos is 21 years old. 

We advise you keep an eye on the oncoming updates though, because more and more states are planning on legalizing online gambling. With that also come regulations regarding the legal age of gambling that we’ll make sure to let you know about as soon as possible!

What is the Legal Gambling Age in New Jersey?

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Blue and White logo

Now let’s get to the last point of this article – the legal gambling age in New Jersey. You can already find some information in the table above, but let’s clear things up a bit. The legal gambling age NJ is 21 years old according to the NJ online gambling law. Virtual gambling and poker are also allowed for residents over the same age. However, an 18 year old can go to a land-based casino as long as they do not gamble. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) is the governmental agency in charge of the gaming industry in the state, including of sports wagering at horse racetracks.

When it comes to sports betting, things are pretty clear too. Even though it’s a new gambling market in this state, all major sports and leagues are available for betting. The legal gambling age in NJ when it comes to sports betting is also 21, which is fairly standard. While the legal age to gamble in NJ is 21 for casinos and poker, for other activities the restriction is a bit looser. This means that you can partake in lottery, bingo and other gambling activities as long as you’re over the age of 18. In conclusion, depending on the activity, the legal gambling age New Jersey is set between 18 to 21. 

Conclusion

We hope we managed to clear up any confusion you might’ve had about the US legal gambling age. While remembering every state’s regulation is a difficult feat, you can mostly go by the rule of thumb: 21 or older for casinos and poker and the legal age of gambling is 18 or older for other activities. Keep in mind that different regulations apply on Native American land, often the gambling legal age being 18 all over the board.

Gambling can be a fun activity if done responsibly, which is what we promote. Whether you’re a fan of slot machines in land-based casinos or are waiting for online gambling to be legalized in your state, we understand your excitement. The rush you get from a big win and the cluster of emotions you feel during every spin are incomparable to many experiences. As long as you’re of age, many states will allow you to bet away without too much hassle. This is why we focus so much on the legal gambling age: maybe you’re out of state and a new, shiny casino has caught your eye. 

Legal Gambling Age in US FAQ

What is the legal age for gambling in US?

Each state regulates the gambling industry on its territory as the authorities see fit. This means the legal age for gambling in US varies and you have to check the regulations. Usually, the age requirement for land-based casinos, poker and sports betting (where it is legal) is 21. For other types of gambling, such as lottery and bingo, the legal gambling age usually is 18. Don’t forget to double check!

What is the legal gambling age in Las Vegas?

In Las Vegas, Nevada, the legal gambling age is 21 years old. This includes all types of gambling activities, such as sports betting, horse racing, casino gambling, poker rooms, bingo and all other such games. 

What is the legal gambling age in California?

The legal age for gambling in California is usually 18. California remains a state where tribal gaming is dominant, and Native legislation allows people over 18 years of age to gamble freely. However, keep in mind that many casinos and other locations have a legal gambling age least 21 years of age. This is usually because alcohol is served in casinos and the authorities wish to prevent underage drinking. So don’t forget to check for information about the venue you wish to visit beforehand!

What is the legal gambling age in Florida?

The minimum age requirement in Florida for gambling is 21 years old when it comes to casinos and poker rooms. However, lottery games, bingo, poker and pari-mutuel betting have a requirement for being at least 18 years old.

What is the legal gambling age in Oklahoma?

The legal gambling age in Oklahoma is 18 years old. However, casinos that serve alcohol have a legal age of gambling requirement of at least21 years old.

What states can you gamble in at 18?

There are currently a few states that have 18+ set as their legal gambling age. These are Washington, Rhode Island, Oregon, Oklahoma, Montana, Minnesota,  Michigan, Idaho, Georgia (cruise casinos), Florida, California and New York, Wisconsin (only at Native casinos). 

What happens if you get caught gambling under 21 in Atlantic City?

If you’re under 21 and violate the Casino Control Act regarding the legal age for gambling you will be convicted of underage gambling. This penalty becomes part of your criminal record and you’ll be fined anywhere between $500 and $1,000. Along with this, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months. In case you’re under 17 years old or have not yet obtained your driver’s license, its issuance will be postponed for six months. 

Who regulates the US gaming industry?

Each US state is responsible for regulating its own gaming entities. Because of that, most states have established their own gaming commissions or lottery boards. However there is an exception. The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act regarding tribal gaming applies nationwide. Other than that, each state is free to either regulate or prohibit such practices within its territory. As for online casinos, this also depends on the state you’re in. States that allow online gambling have set up their own online casino and poker sites

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