Legal Gambling Age in the US: How It Works for Land-Based and Online Gambling

Gambling requires responsibility, and some of us aren't the most responsible at a young age. If a person starts to gamble at a young age, there’s a big chance it would affect their life later on, usually negatively. That’s why all countries in the world have a legal gambling age law, and it’s not very different for each country.

In the US, the minimum gambling age set on the federal level is 18, which means you cannot do anything related to gambling if you’re underage. However, gambling is complex and comes in all shapes and sizes, meaning some gambling activities are more likely to affect individuals than others. That’s the main reason why almost all states have a different — higher — gambling age, which is set to 21.

But why is the gambling age set to those numbers and not others? In other words — why is gambling age 21 in most states? The answer is quite straightforward: the legal age for drinking alcohol is 21.

Some gambling activities, such as the lottery, are lighter, meaning they aren’t as addictive and are less likely to cause gambling harm. That’s why the minimum age for taking part in a lottery in most states is set to 18.

Minimum Legal Gambling Age in the US

Let’s make a quick overview of the minimum legal gambling age for all states and for different types of gambling.

US stateLottery gambling agePari-mutual betting gambling ageCasinos and slots gambling ageCharity bingo & pull-tabs gambling ageSports betting
Alabama18/191921
Alaska1819/2118
Arizona1818181821
Arkansas1821
California181818/211818/21
Colorado1818211821
Connecticut181818/211818/21
Delaware1818211821
District of Columbia181818
Florida18181818/21
Georgia18None21
Hawaii21
Idaho1818None/1818
Illinois181718/211821
Indiana1818211821
Iowa181821None21
Kansas18181821
Kentucky18181821
Louisiana21182118?21
Maine18181618
Maryland18181816-1821
Massachusetts18181821
Michigan181818?1821
Minnesota1818181818
Mississippi211821
Missouri1818211821
Montana1818181618
Nebraska18/19181818
Nevada21?212121?21
New Hampshire18211818/21
New Jersey1818211821
New Mexico1818/2118None?21
New York181818None21
North Carolina?None?21
North Dakota18/212118/2121
Ohio181818/6018
Oklahoma18?18/21
Oregon181818/211818/21
Pennsylvania181818None21
Puerto Rico1818181818
Rhode Island1818181818
South Carolina21?21
South Dakota18/211821?21
Tennessee21
Texas18211821
Utah21
Vermont18181821
Virgin Islands18?
Virginia18181821
Washington181818?1818/21
West Virginia181818?1821
Wisconsin181821/18None21
Wyoming18?21

Read about the legal casino situation in every state

Please understand that an empty field means the type of gambling probably isn’t available in that state. Moreover, the question mark means that the limit exists, but it remains uncertain what it is and whether it applies.

Also, take into account that laws change all the time and that this list might become slightly outdated at some point in the future. Hence, we encourage you to check the legal gambling age in your state before proceeding with any gambling activities, like playing at a US online casino.

Different Gambling Types for US Players

As mentioned above, there are several types of gambling, and for many states, different legal age applies to them. The most popular type of gambling is online casino games, such as slots, table, and card games. In most cases, the minimum gambling age for entering them is 21. 

Sports betting, esports betting, pari-mutuel wagering, and fantasy sports are all part of the sports gambling category. You’ll find more states allowing this activity for 18-year-olds, but most still require 21.

Then, there are charitable gambling activities, which usually include bingo and keno. On top of that, the lottery often belongs to this category. These activities are available for 18-year-olds in many states.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the legal gambling age must exist, and it’s set to 18 in many countries, including in the US. However, many states decided to increase that to 21 for certain gambling activities and make it the same as the legal alcohol drinking age. If you’re a young person between 18 and 21, please refer to your local laws to learn which type of gambling activities you are allowed to take part in.

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