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.
Let’s make a quick overview of the minimum legal gambling age for all states and for different types of gambling.
|US state||Lottery gambling age||Pari-mutual betting gambling age||Casinos and slots gambling age||Charity bingo & pull-tabs gambling age||Sports betting|
|District of Columbia||18||18||18|
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Also, take into account that laws change all the time and that this list might become slightly outdated at some point in the future.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.
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.
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.