My foray into the world of sports betting was as a punter, primarily following the ups and downs (well, mostly downs…) of my local team as they battled against the ever-present threat of relegation. Over time, I began to become more and more interested in the ins and outs of various strategies and became adept at spotting a good operator.
My day job was, at the time, writing and editing for a local newspaper, so turning my professional skills to my interest in sports betting followed naturally. I started writing about sports betting as a hobby initially with my own blog, analysing odds and providing betting tips where I thought I could find value. Eventually, I was headhunted to write the same content for a betting firm, which resulted in me leaving my local paper job behind and turning my professional interests solely to sports betting writing by 2017. Since then, I have been proud of the body of work I have been able to produce.
Using my interest in all aspects of the sports and gambling world to guide me, I now write for Betting.net, compiling operator reviews, bonus reviews, and sharing the tips and tricks across our various sports betting guides. When I’m not at my keyboard, I am an avid rock climber, with an ultimate goal of eventually ascending the Seven Peaks — if I can fit it in between penning the latest bookmaker review, that is!
We know that due to the complex nature of US gambling laws, figuring out the legal online gambling age where you are can be tricky business. That’s why our experts have put together this guide for you.
Below you’ll find specifics about the gambling age in US states where gambling is legal. From the gambling hubs of Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, to the newer legal US gambling states, such as Colorado, we’ll journey through all of the details. If you want to find out about the gambling age in the US, this is the destination.
The legal age is determined on a state by state basis
The age varies between different states
The age also varies between different types of gambling
Most common legal age is 21
In some states, 18 year olds can engage in some forms of gambling
Not all states have legal gambling for persons of any age
Online gambling Age US
When it comes to the question of the legal gambling age in the USA, things are a bit more complex than in other countries. The PASPA was lifted back in 2018, which gave online and offline gambling the green light at federal level. Prior to this sports wagering on all sports aside from horse racing and greyhound racing was banned in all states aside from Nevada. Additionally, brick and mortar casinos were only permitted in states on a limited tribal basis.
However, the lifting of the gambling ban in 2018 doesn’t mean that all forms of gambling are now legalized across the whole of the United States. Instead, it’s no left up to individual state governments to decide if they want to legalize gambling within their borders. It is also up to them to create their own rules and regulations as well. Therefore, not only does the age for legal gambling differ between US states, it also differs between different forms of gambling within those states. Especially when it comes to online gambling, many US states still have an outright ban.
Confused? We’ve explained the ins and outs in more detail for you below.
The legal age for different types of gambling in the US
The lifting of the federal ban back in 2018 was a game changer for the online gambling industry. It’s still relatively new in the US compared to most European countries and the majority of states are still yet to fully license and regulate it.
Other “softer” forms of gambling, such as lotteries, bingo and tribal casinos, have been around for much longer. They are still regulated on a state by state basis, and therefore the legal age for each type of gambling differs from state to state.
Across the board, the minimum legal age for all forms of gambling in the US commonly ranges between 18 and 21.
Legal gambling US – sports betting age
With the exception of racing, sports betting in the US is a relatively new concept in the majority of US states, with the federal ban having only been lifted in 2018. Currently in 2021, around half US states still have a total ban on sports wagering for people of all ages. Though we should point out that most states do have the wheels in motion to legalize mobile or online sports wagering in some form. You can find out more about this in our sports betting explained article.
As a result of this, you have to be aged at least 21 and over to legally place a sports wager in most legal US gambling states.
Legal gambling US – casino age
Although playing in online casinos has only been legal in the US since 2018, the majority of US states do have land based casinos in the form of tribal casinos. As a result, the states that have legalized online casino gaming have generally passed over the rules and laws that they already had in place for their brick and mortar casinos.
In most states, including the world famous gambling state of Nevada, home to Las Vegas, the minimum casino age is 21. Some states, however, do permit casino gambling from the age of 18 and older. There are also some states where the minimum age changes depending on the establishment.
For example in New York state, 18 year olds can legally gamble in casinos that don’t serve alcohol or have a liquor license. Similarly, you’ll also find that the states with a legal casino age of 18 tend to be dry, have strict liquor laws or have a alcohol ban in the tribal counties where the casinos are located.
Legal gambling age US – poker
Poker rooms, either offline or online, are legal in some form in the majority of US states with a few exceptions. You will also find that some states have different rules on what types of poker are allowed to be played – and more crucially the involvement of the money that can be one. For example, some states will only allow residents to access online poker sites where the prize money works on a sweepstakes system, rather than traditional gambling.
Once again, the age tends to be 21 for both offline and online poker in the majority of states, with some states having a legal age of 18. In states including Alaska and Kentucky, poker rooms of all types remain illegal for residents regardless of age.
When the word “gambling” gets thrown around, sports wagering, casino and poker tend to be the first things that come to mind. However there are also a number of other gambling forms that are legal across many US states. We’ve taken a look at some of these below.
Horse and greyhound racing
As we briefly alluded to above, betting at horse and greyhound racing tracks comes under a different jurisdiction in the eyes of the law in the US. As a result, you will find legal wagering at racetracks in most US states. In around 30 states, you can also legally access online horse and greyhound betting for racetracks in the US and overseas.
Perhaps surprisingly, the legal age for race betting in the majority of US states is 18, with only a handful of states having the higher minimum age of 21. There’s also the exception of Nebraska, where the legal age is actually 19.
Although America doesn’t have much of a history with the more “hard” forms of gambling, such as casino and sports wagering, the majority of US states do have their own state-run lottery. Included within these are other games such as scratchers and kendo.
As lottery games are considered to be a softer form of gambling with less risk of addiction, the legal lottery age in most states is 18. Some exceptions include Iowa and Lousianna, where the age is 21. There are also a few states without a legalized state lottery.
Perhaps the most surprising on the list of states without a legal lottery is Nevada. That’s right, it’s illegal to buy a lottery ticket in the home state of Las vegas – mind officially blown, right?!
You might not think so, but bingo does fall into the gambling category, and therefore has a legal minimum age imposed in each state. With the exception of Texas, there are no states where the legal age for bingo is as high as 21. You need to be 18 to play bingo in most states; however, as always, there are a few exceptions. The minimum age is just 16 in Ohio and Oklahoma, and 19 in Alaska. The state of New Mexico has no legal minimum wage requirement to play bingo.
Legal gambling age by state
So we’ve already taken a look at how the legal gambing age in the US looks based upon different forms of gambling. Now let’s take a look at the legal gambing age by state in the US.
If we’re talking about more traditional forms of gambling and online gambling – including sports wagering, poker and casinos – the age you’re going to want to keep in mind is 21. Even in the liberal online betting hubs of New Jersey and Pennsylvania the minimum online gambling age is 21 for both casinos and sports wagering sites.
When it comes to online gambling, the US has a fairly new relationship with it compared to some countries, such as the United Kingdom. As a result, the states that have legalized it are being careful and strict with their regulations. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it keeps the gamblers themselves safe and secure as a whole.
If you’re in a legal US gambling state, always assume the legal age is 21 unless you’re told otherwise.
Gambling age by state – crossing borders
One common question we are frequently asked with regards to the legal online gambling age is what happens when it comes to crossing state lines. The answer, once again, differs from state to state. That being said there is one constant rule: the age restrictions and rules always apply in the state you’re in, not the state you’re from.
In some US states where gambling is legal, you will only be allowed to place an online wager if you’re actually a resident of that state and aged over 21. In other states, you will be allowed to legally wager online as long as you’re 21 and physically within the borders of that state.
In New Jersey for example, anyone who’s aged over 21 can legally take out their phone, sign up to a sports betting site and place a wager on an NFL game. You don’t have to be from the State of New Jersey or even a US citizen. As soon as you leave state lines though, your account will be blocked from placing a bet. Please keep in mind that there is no way around this – these major betting brands have cutting edge technology and can see through your VPN!
Online gambling age – verification
So if you’re gambling online, you might be wondering how the betting and casino companies know if you’re over the age of 21 or not. In order to create a betting account with companies in legal US gamblng states, you will have to go through a strict verification process. In order to prove your age and address you will usually need to provide two forms of government issued ID – such as a driving license or passport. In addition to that, you will also need to provide a bank statement or utility bill as proof of address.
What other betting and casino guides are available at Betting.net
This lowdown on the US gambling age state by state is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the online betting guide articles that we have on offer here at Betting.net. We’ve got a tonne of legal gambling guides, as well as tips, tricks and strategies. It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete novice or an experienced gambler looking to level up – you’ll find something here with us at Betting.net! From betting odds explained, to sports betting bankroll management – it’s all here.
Conclusion: gambling age state by state
So there you have it, a general guide to complexities of the legal ages for gambling here in the US. We know that it’s a lot to take in, but the nature of the USA’s state by state model is the way it is. Our advice; always check up on the laws if you’re travelling and if in doubt when walking into a casino – assume the legal age is 21 unless told otherwise.
The gambling laws in the US are complex to the point that it’s impossible to give a direct answer here. Not only do the age requirements differ by state, they also differ by gambling types. For example, sports wagering could be 21, but casinos be 18 in the same state. Check out our state by state guide here.
🇺🇸 In what states do you have to be 21 to gamble?
The short answers – you have to be 21 to gamble in most states, but not all. Check out Betting.net for more info on legal gambling age minimums in the US.
🎰 How old do you have to be to gamble online?
The answer to this question varies from state to state. To find out, you can take a look at the full list of states and gambling ages right here on this site.