Bart Calendar spent 10 years as a journalist for Gannett covering murder trials and rock and roll.
Since then he has traveled the Earth gambled in the best casinos in the world.
While gambling in general and online gambling in particular may be fun, unless you’re of the legal gambling age when you join a casino, you’re pretty much setting yourself up for a failure right from the start. In the United States, the minimum legal gambling age is set at 21 with a few states exempt from this rule. In these states, you might be allowed to gamble in live casinos and online as soon as you turn 18.
Important Facts about Legal Gambling Age
The gambling age limit in most states is 21
This age restriction applies to live and online gambling alike
In some states, you’re allowed to gamble when you turn 18
If you play while underage and win, you’re highly unlikely to get paid
Gambling Age Restrictions: Do’s & Don’ts
One of the most important things you should always keep in mind about the legal gambling age is that this isn’t some random, irrelevant provision. In the United States, this is the actual law and you should never, under any circumstances, play any online casino games for real money if you’re under the age limit.
There are many reasons why you should avoid gambling while legally underage. Some of these reasons include:
You’re breaking the law by doing so
You’re very unlikely to get paid even if you do win
You can get in other types of problems
While you may or may not agree with the gambling age limit, like many other laws, this one is fully in place and it is respected by all licensed and regulated gaming operations, be it casinos, poker rooms, or bingo halls.
What this means is that no reputable casino will pay you your winnings if they discover you were playing when legally not allowed to do so. Even if they wanted to do it for whatever reason, they would be breaking the law themselves by paying you the winnings that you’re technically not entitled to.
Once again, whether you personally think this is fair or not has no bearing on the matter. While some people have managed to gamble while under the legal age limit and actually got their winnings somehow, these cases are a few and far between. There are many more examples where lucky winners were shown the doors or denied their online withdrawals based on their age. Since it is hard to win when gambling as it is, this is really one of the worst feelings and you shouldn’t even put yourself in this situation.
Online Gambling Age Restrictions
As already mentioned, the gambling age limit is set by the laws and whether you play online or in a live venue doesn’t change anything. Online gambling age restrictions are the same and if you aren’t allowed to play in a live casino until you’re 21 then you shouldn’t be playing at an online gambling site, either.
It may seem that it is easier to get away with it online as there are many internet casinos that won’t ask for any verification documents until after you had requested a cashout. However, once you hit that withdrawal button, you can be pretty certain you’ll be requested to send in documents proving the information you provided at the registration is true – including your real age.
At this point, if you’d lied about your age, saying for example you were 21 when you’re actually 19, you can pretty much kiss any winnings goodbye. As discussed earlier, even if an operator wanted to pay you, they could get in legal problems themselves by knowingly paying money to someone under the minimum gambling age. No casino will take that risk.
Here and there, you might find an offshore casino site that will allow you to join and play at the age of 18 even if your state restriction is 21. Since many of these sites are operating against the US laws as it is, they might have no problems accepting your business. However, you should never get involved with these entities as the fact they’re willing to bend the rules or outright break them should be a huge red flag.
In some states, you could even get in serious legal problems for gambling with an unlicensed site while legally underage. These potential problems make it not worth your while to go through all the trouble of depositing and trying to get lucky going against the odds as you’re still highly unlikely to get paid in the end, even if they try to convince you otherwise.
Why Is Gambling 21?
Over the years, there have been many debates in the US about whether legal age restrictions for gambling and drinking should be lowered. In other parts of the world, Europe especially, the gambling age limit is usually 18, which makes sense as you’re responsible for everything else once you turn 18.
The situation in the States is very interesting in this regard. While people can go to war when they turn 18 and start driving as young as 16, in most states, you won’t be able to gamble until you turn 21. This law has been in place for decades now and there doesn’t seem to be any real will or effort to change it.
There are valid arguments from both sides. On one hand, if people are held accountable for their actions after they turn 18 and can face full consequences for anything they do, why is it they are not specifically allowed to gamble? If they’re allowed to join the army and go fight wars, why can’t they walk into a casino or register online and do what they please with their money?
On the other side of the spectrum, there are arguments that gambling can be very addictive and lead to financial ruin. People just turning 18 may not have any experience in managing their own finances and many could easily blow through their earnings faster than they touch their bank accounts. With a few years in between, they can learn to be more responsible and have better control.
In the end, it is really a matter of perspective. Which side you decide to take on the live and online gambling age limits depends on your particular world views. There is no right and wrong in this discussion as there are strong arguments for both sides.
Exceptions to the Rule: States Where Gambling Age Is 18
While most of the US sticks to the 21 age limit, this isn’t a federal law. States and, in some cases, even counties and cities, have free rein to determine their own rules. So, the legal gambling age in each state differs and there are states where gambling age is 18.
The number of states with the lower age limit isn’t that big. Some examples include Alaska, Wymoing, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Washington, South Carolina, and New York. However, you still might not be able to play all casino games when you turn 18. In some states, you might only be allowed to gamble on particular games when you turn 18, while other games are still only available to people over 21.
Like before, these laws also apply to online gambling age restrictions as well. If you’re allowed to play and win in a live casino where you live when you turn 18 then you’re also allowed to gamble online. The fact there are no licensed operators at the moment of writing this text where you could play is another matter entirely. Looking purely at the gambling age restriction, you wouldn’t be breaking that particular law if you’re playing online when you turn 18 in these states. But, if you’d rather not take the risk, you could always try social casinos. They even do fantastic offers to give you more playing options, such as the House of Fun coins and High 5 casino promo codes offers.
Play at Licensed Sites & Don’t Worry About Online Gambling Age Limits
While offshore operators may be willing to bend or disregard the rules, licensed US sites will never let you play unless you’re legally allowed to do so. These sites have to stick to all the laws and they will make sure you do as well. So, if you want an enjoyable and safe experience with full confidence you’ll get paid when you win, check out our recommended licensed online casinos and try your luck at one of these sites!
Don’t Play While Under Gambling Age: It’s not Worth It
While it may be tempting to go for it and try your luck (in more ways than one), playing while under the online gambling age limit is simply not a good idea. You could face many problems and you’re highly unlikely to ever get paid even if you do win. Instead of looking for ways to get around the rules, stay patient and wait until you’re legally allowed to play online. Your patience will be rewarded!