Understanding Legal Gambling Ages Across the US 

Place Your Bets — Understanding Legal Gambling Ages Across the US 

As we start to see more and more online gambling sites and sports betting operators, it’s important to make sure you’re acting within the law when taking part. Each individual state in the USA has its own laws surrounding gambling, and this includes the legal age. 

We took a look at what these age requirements are, and how they differ from state to state, and between types of gambling. 

Types of Gambling in America

Legal ages will change depending on the kind of gambling. The main types of gambling are sports betting, casinos, online casinos, bingo, poker and poker rooms, and lottery. Each of these will have its own ruling on legal ages, and this will also differ from state to state.

It’s important to always do your research on legal gambling ages before traveling to a state and hoping to take part in any kind of betting, as the laws can change considerably between places, and between types of gambling. 

Sports Betting

Sports betting involves placing bets on the outcome of a sports event, specific incidents that may occur during a game, players’ performances, or the results of a league. Bets can be placed either at retail sportsbooks or online sportsbooks. Online sportsbooks have exploded in popularity in recent years, thanks to their accessibility and convenience. 

There are a number of different bets that can be made on sports. The most common bets that you’ll see are parlays, teasers, propositions, if bets, total bets, moneyline bets, and spread betting. 

It is only in the last couple of years that sports betting has been legalized in the United States. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 made the practice illegal, except for four states (Nevada, Montana, Delaware, and Oregon), which already had the framework in place for gambling. Since the PASPA was abolished in 2018, some 30+ states have legalized sports betting in some capacity. 

Casinos

We’ve all heard of casinos, and many of us will have visited a fair few in our time. They’re known for being places where you can engage in all types of gambling, such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and more. 

Casinos are also places where people come to drink, have dinner, socialize, and see live entertainment. This is because they are often built as part of resorts or complexes in touristic areas.

Poker, Lottery, Bingo

All different kinds of games, poker, lottery, and bingo are popular not just in the US but all over the world. Bingo and lottery are often not classed in the same category as poker and other forms of gambling, such as sports betting. 

You’ll typically find poker being played in casinos, as well as in its own tournaments or online. Bingo and lottery are also typically played online, but are not as common to find in casinos. 

States and Their Laws

Some states are much more relaxed than others when it comes to their laws on gambling, whether this be what types of gambling are allowed, where you are allowed to bet, or what the legal age is. We took a look into some US states and what their legislation says about the gambling age limits.

California

In the state of California, the age limit for casinos and poker rooms is strictly 21+. The age for bingo and lottery is 18+, which you’ll find is common across America as there is an understanding that bingo/lottery and casinos/poker are not the same level of gambling activity. 

All other types of gambling are illegal in California, namely sportsbooks, online casinos, online poker, and online sports betting.

Florida

The legal age to gamble in Florida is similar to that of California. Residents aged 21+ can gamble in casinos, and over 18s can make use of poker rooms and play bingo and the lottery. However, sportsbooks and online gambling are currently outlawed. 

Nevada

Nevada, and Las Vegas more specifically, is notorious for its casinos and gambling culture. Lottery and online casinos are currently illegal for any age group, but every other form of betting is legal. The minimum age for any kind of betting is 21+ in Nevada, which may come as a surprise, as this makes it stricter than a lot of other US states. 

Texas

For Texans, the laws surrounding gambling are pretty tight. Poker rooms, online gambling (including poker, casinos, and sports betting), casinos, and sportsbooks are all illegal, and only bingo and lottery are accessible for over 18s. The choices that residents have is to either partake in this kind of gambling, travel to neighboring states, or use offshore sportsbooks to play.

Pennsylvania

As far as gambling laws go, Pennsylvania has one of the more relaxed attitudes. For starters, all forms of gambling are legal in this state, from online sports betting to casinos. The legal age for all these activities is 21+, except for bingo and lottery.

New York

The age restrictions are fairly lax in New York, but what isn’t is the types of gambling that have been legalized in the first place. Sportsbooks, online casinos, online poker, and online sports betting are all illegal, and any activities of this nature have to be undertaken in a nearby state or offshore sportsbook. 

The legal age for bingo, poker rooms, and the lottery is 18, and 18+/21+ for casinos. When a state has two different legal ages, this usually indicates that it’s down to the discrepancy of the casino. Some will allow 18 as the minimum age, whereas others will enforce a 21+ limit.

What Happens When Underage Gambling Takes Place?

On occasions when people under the ages of either 21 or 18 enter a casino or venue where gambling takes place, there can be some serious consequences. In most states, punishments for underage gambling will begin with either a fine or a driver’s license suspension, but can become more severe if repeat offenses take place. Regardless of the severity of the punishment, anybody who partakes in illegal gambling will have a criminal record. 

In cases of underage betting where the perpetrator is still a child, sometimes the parents will have to face the punishment on behalf of their child. 

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