If you are visiting America, there are a lot of things to keep in mind during the planning stages, especially if your trip will take in several different states.
This is relevant because laws can differ significantly from place to place, and this is especially true when it comes to gambling. Some places have fully embraced gambling in all its forms, others have outlawed it completely, while yet a third group have accepted certain types of gambling while giving the cold shoulder to others.
One of the main differences in gambling regulations across the US relates to the legal age at which you may participate in games of chance. Not paying attention to this could cause embarrassment at best, or leave you in legal hot water at worst, so here is an overview of the main talking points surrounding this issue to help you out.
Better safe than sorry
You can get a thorough overview of legal gambling age by state in America at legalgamblingage.com, and this is an invaluable resource for any younger travellers who have got a trip to the US on the cards. However, as a general rule it is best to assume that if you want to visit a casino and play any of the games, then you will need to be at least 21 years old to do so.
This applies to land-based locations everywhere from Alabama and Arkansas to Nevada and Oregon, and is a reminder that 21 is the legal minimum age for all sorts of other activities, such as drinking alcohol.
So if you would rather not worry too much about whether a casino you are visiting in America will welcome you with open arms, it is safe to assume that as long as you are 21 years of age or older, you will be fine.
Of course as mentioned above, some states stand out from the crowd by having a lower legal gambling age than the majority of their counterparts, so if you are under 21 and you do want to experience the casino lifestyle on your American adventure, there are a handful of places where land-based venues will let you in without issue.
This includes South Carolina, Wyoming, Washington, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Minnesota. There are exceptions even within some of these states; for example, in the case that you want to drink alcohol as well as gambling in Minnesota, you will indeed need to be 21 or older.
Gambling type matters
Taking things a little further, the legal minimum age for gambling can vary within individual states depending on the type of activity you are participating in.
We have already touched on the 21+ rule which applies in the majority of cases for visiting land-based casinos, but things get a little more lenient if you want to enjoy activities like bingo, or if you want to buy a lottery ticket.
In both the case of bingo and lottery play, lots of states allow anyone aged 18 or older to participate, since these are seen as softer forms of gambling, and in many cases are directly operated by state authorities as well.
Standalone poker rooms may also accept younger players than full-blown casinos, although these are just as likely to be illegal even in states where casinos are allowed.
Then there’s sports betting, which is still predominantly prohibited in all but a handful of states. This is starting to change, thanks to a supreme court ruling in 2018, but expect to find a blanket 21+ rule if you want to wager on sports matches where it is allowed.
Online gambling has some surprising restrictions
Visiting an online casino is of course an option if you are in the US, although the power that individual states wield means that there are some rules which might seem weird to people from other parts of the globe.
Specifically, in states like New Jersey where online casinos are legal and regulated, you need to be physically located within the state’s borders in order to play.
There are of course workarounds, or you could play at an offshore site, but it is always better to stick to the rules, especially when it comes to gambling in a foreign country.
Hopefully you now have a decent understanding of how legal gambling ages are applied in America, but always double check which laws apply in the places you are planning to visit.