Gambling is one of the most popular activities around the world. However, you might be surprised to find out that not all countries have the same legal gambling age. This number varies between countries and even states, depending on their laws and regulations. In some other countries, it’s illegal for anyone to gamble, regardless of their age.
In most countries where gambling is legal, an individual must be at least 18 years old to participate. In some other countries, the minimum age to gamble is 21. Whether you are betting on casino games, football, horse racing, or any other form of gambling, identification is required to ensure you are of legal age.
If you want to learn more about how the legal gambling age varies worldwide, keep reading!
Why Is Gambling Illegal for Minors?
Gambling is a high-risk activity, which is why many countries have set a minimum legal age, and others have made gambling outright illegal. As with other activities, governments require gambling to be within specific establishments that have a legal responsibility of maintaining a safe gambling environment.
Gambling is an activity that requires a high level of responsibility due to the financial risk involved. Unfortunately, most minors don’t possess that level of responsibility or even fully understand the concept of finance or the risks involved in gambling. Additionally, minors also have a higher chance of getting addicted to gambling than adults.
Therefore, countries worldwide have set age restrictions to prevent susceptible young individuals from gambling and ending in unpleasant situations.
So, how old do you have to be to gamble? Every country has a different age restriction for gambling (which also varies depending on the specific activity). Typically, the legal age is either 18 or 21.
The United Kingdom
In The United Kingdom, gambling is a common activity amongst young adults. Even during regular sporting events, multiple gambling advertisements encourage people to place bets on their favourite teams.
The minimum gambling and casino age in the UK is 18. This law applies to almost all gambling activities, including online gaming, bingo, betting shops, and race tracks.
Previously, there were exceptions to this rule. These included football pools, The National Lottery, and a couple of other random lotteries, where the legal age to participate was 16. However, the government increased the minimum age limit to 18 as of April 2021.
New Age Verification Law
In 2019, the Gambling Commission reviewed the process of age verification in the UK licenced gambling businesses and announced that all gambling organizations must verify every customer’s age before making a bet or deposit.
Prior to this, people were allowed to register and place a bet or deposit as long as they could verify their age within 72 hours or before they made a withdrawal. The commission declared that this time frame allows an opportunity for minors to gamble even if they can’t make a withdrawal.
Therefore, the government introduced the New Age Verification Law. The rule means that there would be delays during the betting and signing up while the age verification takes place. However, this helps in preventing minors from trying to gamble. The rule also applies to free-to-play games and demos online.
The United States
Despite what you might believe, gambling in the United States doesn’t only happen in Atlantic City and Las Vegas; multiple states have numerous gambling businesses. The US gambling age varies based on the state, but it ranges from 18 to 21.
The gambling age in Vegas is 21, and while people under that age are allowed to walk in the casino, they are not allowed to enter the gaming areas even when accompanied by an adult.
The minimum gambling age set by different states also varies depending on the gambling activity. For instance, the minimum age in Atlantic City for poker rooms and casinos is 21, but for lottery, bingo, and horseracing, the minimum age is 18.
Popular Gambling Locations
When you think of gambling, you would instantly associate it with Las Vegas, right? However, it’s not the only place where people can enjoy gambling. Here are some other popular gambling locations in the world:
Monte Carlo, Monaco
If you want to enjoy a sophisticated gambling experience and feel like James Bond, Monte Carlo is the place to go. The casinos there are similar to the ones in London, and you can play all types of different high-stake games. Additionally, the gambling age in Monte Carlo is 18.
The only place in China where betting is allowed is in Macau. It has undoubtedly gained immense popularity and is often compared to Las Vegas. Gambling is so prevalent in Macau that the region has built half of its economy from casinos. The legal gambling age there is 21.
Although gambling in Singapore isn’t as well-established as it is in the rest of the world, the country still sports the most expensive casinos at Marina Bay Sands Resorts. It offers an array of gambling options, with over 250 games and 2,300 slot machines available. Over there, the legal casino age is 21.
Aruba is often referred to as the “Vegas of the Caribbean” because it’s one of the few destinations where you can indulge in a vast selection of gambling games while enjoying sandy beaches. It offers 24/7 casinos and gambling machines in almost all the resorts and hotels. The minimum age to gamble there is 18.
Legal Gambling Age Around the World
The UK, Spain, and Germany are among the top markets in Europe for gambling, allowing people to gamble in both traditional casinos and online casinos. Meanwhile, in the US, Las Vegas is the most popular gambling destination. In Africa, South Africa holds the title for the most popular gambling country in the continent.
Despite their similar popularity, all these locations have varying legal gambling ages. The casino age limit depends on every country and state’s own laws and regulations.
Let’s take a closer look at the minimum gambling age around the globe:
||Legal Age to Gamble
||18 to 21
- In Gabon, Guinea Bissau, and South Sudan, there is no official gambling age.
- In some countries, gambling is illegal.
||18 to 21
- Gambling is illegal in some countries.
||No restrictions, except on cruises (18).
||18 to 21
- In some parts, gambling is illegal.
||18 to 23
- The age limit across all countries is 18, except Greece, where the legal age is 23.
- Due to complicated laws in Portugal, the legal age varies depending on the casino.
||18 to 21
- The legal age in almost all states of the US is 18 except for Nebraska (19), Louisiana (21), Iowa (21), and Arizona (21).
- The legal age in Canada is 19, except Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba, where the legal age is 18.
Where Is It Illegal
While gambling is seen as a fun pastime for many countries, it’s completely illegal in others. Here is a list of countries where there is no need for a legal betting age, as no one is allowed to gamble:
||Countries Where Gambling is Illegal
- Brunei Darussalam
- China – except Macau.
- Saudi Arabia
- Thailand – except for the government lottery.
- Marshal Islands – with minor exceptions.
- Palau – with some exceptions.
- The British Virgin Islands
The legal gambling age worldwide is certainly an interesting topic due to the many variations and the different reasons behind them. While most countries enjoy and embrace the joys of gambling, some have banned all gambling activities to prevent addiction and for cultural and religious reasons.
So, in summary, how old do you have to be to bet?
In most countries around the world, the legal age for gambling is 18, and some have set the age limit to 21. The age restriction of different countries can give you a glimpse into the outlook towards gambling and the diverse cultures of these countries.
Wherever you plan to enjoy some gambling, it’s essential to always check the laws and regulations before you place a bet to avoid any troubles and thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Here are some of the commonly asked questions about the legal gambling age around the world:
Can you gamble at 16 in the UK?
In the UK, according to Gambling Act of 2005, it’s illegal for anyone to allow a person under 18 to gamble or even enter gambling premises.
At what age can you buy a lottery ticket in the UK?
Previously, the minimum age to buy a lottery ticket was 16, but as of April 2021, it’s been amended to 18.
What is the Las Vegas gambling age?
In Las Vegas, the legal gambling age is 21.
Can a minor go into a casino with a parent?
While minors can enter casinos, they cannot enter the gaming areas, even with a parent.
Can you gamble at 18 at an American Indian casino?
Every province or state in the US has its own minimum age laws, but some Native American casinos are exempt from this and can reduce the legal age to 18. For example, in some Indian casinos, the legal gambling age is 18 if the business doesn’t serve alcohol.