US Legal Gambling Age State by State
|US State||Land-Based Casinos||Online Casinos||Poker||Sports Betting|
|Georgia||18 (on cruise ships)||--||18||-|
|South Dakota||18 (at tribal casinos)||-||-||-|
|South Carolina||21 (on cruise ships)||-||18||-|
Minimum Legal US Gambling Age
The legal gambling age differs from state to state due to how federal and state law works.
For those uncertain about the difference, federal law refers to laws applied to everyone in the US, while state law only applies to people in a specific state.
The state is often the one responsible for determining the legal gambling age, and so the result is that different states have different minimum ages for gambling.
Today we will take a more in-depth look at the legal gambling age in the US and why this information is important to know and understand.
This importance falls not only on people below the required age limits but also on those older than the age requirements since it can influence their experiences with gambling.
These age restrictions are there for a reason, and we want to delve into all the small details.
If you need a quick answer, just refer to the table below, otherwise, come along for a more detailed look into the world of gambling, and the minimum age required to gamble.
What casino games can you play at 18?
Again, it’s important to look at the state law instead of looking for a general answer that applies everywhere. Where 18 years of age is the minimum age for legal gambling in some states, it will either provide access to all casino services or only some. Examples would be that in Virginia, you can legally play Poker, although you’re not allowed to visit land-based casinos. Compare that to West Virginia, where sports betting is the only legal gambling you may do at 18. You can quickly see how a universal answer is not possible.
What happens if you gamble in an online casino being underage?
If you’re caught gambling underage – whether online or offline – the penalties are generally the same. Underage gamblers can receive any number of penalties,including fines (between $500 - $1000), a six-month driver’s license suspension, probation, community service, and even jail time. (1) It’s always the safer bet to not take chances and wait until you are of the minimum age for legal gambling.
Does Fake ID work in Online Casinos?
While you might have heard of people succeeding at trying fake IDs, the industry has become extremely proficient at combatting these attempts. Casinos use various tools, from barcode scanners to official ID databases, to ensure that no fake IDs receive the green light into their systems. If you’re thinking about using a fake ID, we would encourage you to reconsider and wait until you reach the minimum playing age for casinos in your state.
Are gambling ages different for online casinos?
Generally, the gambling ages for online casinos are the same as land-based casinos. The main reason for this lack of difference in legal gambling age is the online services’ checking of your state when you sign up for an account. The age requirements for using the services of the online casino will depend on state law.
Do I have to pay taxes if I am at the minimum age to gamble?
If you are at the legal age to gamble, you meet the minimum age requirements to pay taxes on any winnings. There is no difference in how you’re taxed unless you’re A.) a professional gambler or B.) above the age of 65.
Could you ever gamble at 18 in Vegas?
Currently, the legal gambling age in Nevada is 21 – regardless of the type of gambling. Since the state governs the laws for legal gambling age, there might well come a time n Nevada decides to drop their age requirements, although we think it’s unlikely that it will happen anytime soon.
Why do Americans have to wait until 21 to gamble?
Regarding age requirements for things such as gambling, drinking, or other types of entertainment with an age requirement attached, you might have noticed that these requirements often differ from country to country.
You might wonder why you’re allowed to drive from the age of 16, but you’re only allowed to gamble from the age of 21. It seems strange, right?
The main reason for these restrictions – especially regarding the legal gambling age – is due to the innate link between gambling and drinking. Most casinos dispense alcohol and often dispense it from multiple places inside the same establishment.
To better combat underage drinking, the legal age of gambling was increased to match the legal drinking age in some places so that the establishments don’t run the risk of letting people in that are old enough to gamble but not old enough to drink. The responsibility increases for those working on the floor to ensure everyone is of the legal drinking age even if they’re already at the legal gambling age, leaving too much room for error.
While you might think, ‘but why not lower the legal drinking age AND the legal gambling age to 18’, you’d be opening an entirely different can of worms.
Every state adopted the legal drinking age between 1984 and 1988 due to how closely linked it was with traffic accidents. So, the odds of the legal drinking age changing are highly unlikely, and therefore, so are the odds of the legal gambling ages changing – at least throughout the whole of the US. (2)
Why in some States the Minimum Age for gambling is 21 and 18 in others?
The main reason for the differences in age requirements for legal gambling comes down to how the US handles laws. Given the size of the US, it makes more sense to have certain laws handled at a federal level – meaning it applies everywhere – and other laws handled at a state level – meaning it only applies to the state making the laws.
One of the laws left up to states is that of the minimum gambling age. Since states handle the creation of age restriction laws on their own terms – while still adhering to any relevant federal law – it differs from state to state.
Where can you place your bets when you meet the legal age?
Before we explain where you can place bets when you meet the required age for gambling, you should understand first that the gambling industry contains different sectors. While these sectors all fall under the broader theme of ‘gambling’, they can still end up with different age requirements.
An example of varying requirements would be that placing bets on sports might be allowed for 18-year-olds, but playing poker or going into a land-based or online casino might only allow people over the age of 21.
However, you should note that once you meet the age requirement for casinos, you similarly meet the age requirement for all other forms of gambling in a state.
The main reason for this is that casinos have the highest requirement regarding age.
So, if you’re old enough to go into a casino, you can place your bets anywhere in your state without problems – whether offline or online.
Types of Bets Available to US Bettors
As with many things in the gambling world, there are layers upon layers of intricacies behind every corner. One of these categories that contain its fair share of intricacies is that of betting types. Understanding betting types is important since it allows you to better place bets without accidentally doing so in ways that disadvantage you because you misunderstood the concept.
We’ve put together a list of betting types for you to reference should you need to sharpen up your betting lingo. We’ve also included a description of each and the minimum legal age required to partake in said bet.
Let’s take a look.
Legal Age for Bet Types
|Bet Type||Description||Minimum Legal Age Required|
|Doubles||One of the simplest forms of bets available. You place a bet on two things and combine the odds. Then, to win, both of those bets must succeed. Should one bet fail, you fail your double-bet.||State-dependent. (18 – 21)|
|Each way bets||Each way bets consist of two parts: a win bet and a place bet. A win bet wins if the selection wins whatever event they compete in. A place bet wins if the same selection wins within a certain number of places. If your selection wins, you win on both your place bets and win bets. If your selection only places, you get your place bet back but lose your win bet.||State-dependent. (18 – 21)|
|Forecast bets||A forecast bet requires that you pick both the first and second places for an event – in that order.||State-dependent. (18 – 21)|
|Pari-mutuel betting||In Pari-Mutuel bets, you place bets against other betters, not a bookkeeper. All bets go into a pool, and the pool is shared equally among winners at the end of the bet.||State-dependent. (18 – 21)|
|Parlay bets (accumulators)||In a Parlay bet, you combine several small bets into a large bet. To win the parlay, you need EVERY small bet to win as well. Should any one of the small bets fail, you lose the entire parlay bet.||State-dependent. (18 – 21)|
|Trebles||In a treble bet you combine three separate selections into a single bet. You need all three of those selections/bets to win for your treble bet to succeed. Should you fail any of the selections/bets, you fail the entire bet.||State-dependent. (18 – 21)|
|Tricast bets||In a tricast bet, you attempt to select the first, second, and third place for an event. These bets are challenging since you need quite a few things to align for a win to occur here. These bets are mostly used in races.||State-dependent. (18 – 21)|
Takeaway on the minimum age to gamble in the US
Now that you’ve gone through everything regarding the gambling age requirements in the US, what are your thoughts? Do you think the gambling ages should change, or do you agree with the reasoning behind why it is where it is?
Gambling has come a long way not just in the US but everywhere in the world, and with it, naturally, there have been extensive laws, legal battles, and changes in the industry.
We want to provide you with as much up-to-date information as possible on the legalities surrounding age requirements for gambling so that you can make more informed decisions before placing bets – whether on horses or on poker hands.
Remember to always gamble responsibly and legally. Don’t try your luck with fake IDs or try to circumnavigate the law in other ways. You will get caught, and you will regret it.
Always wait until you’re at the legally required age for gambling before placing your bets.
If you are of the legal age to gamble and you feel that you are developing an addiction, we encourage that you seek assistance immediately.
Gambling should be a past-time for those who enjoy playing odds and should never come at the expense of your health, mental health, or happiness.
Resources & Sources
- Penalties for Underage Gambling, John Tumelty Blog, Accessed 2 September 2022, <https://www.johntumeltycriminaldefense.com/blog/5-penalties-people-face-when-charged-with-underage-gambling/>
- Alcohol and Public Health, CDC, Accessed 2 September 2022, <https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/minimum-legal-drinking-age.htm>