Why is the gambling age 21?


It is a common thing for countries around the globe to share similar views about the age restrictions; they can be about different things like getting your ID card, drinking or gambling. However, there are various parameters of when one is becoming an adult for each country. Therefore in most countries in Europe, when you are in the age of 18 means, you are an adult, while in the US it’s 21 years. Since the US has entirely different from the rest of the countries, it is interesting to see how that reflects the society in the context of gambling among young people from the age of 18 until 21.

Age and gambling in the US

When it comes to gambling in the US it is a well-known fact that most casinos have an age limit; this applies to the online and the regular casino games. Most of the states in the US has separate laws regarding gambling; therefore in some countries, such as Alaska, you can gamble if you are 18 years old. Also, if you are 18 in Delaware or Florida, you can play bingo; while in some others you can gamble on the horse racing, which is good for the start, right?

However, the members of the tribal communities have specific rules and regulations when it comes to their tribal casinos. They have regulation of gambling by Indian Gaming Regulatory that dates from 1988; thus the age limits are entirely different there. Nonetheless, in most of the US, the limited age for gambling is 21, and we are going to see why it is like that.

In the US young people have the chance to celebrate their coming of age even two times! The first time they celebrate when they turn 18 years; at that age, they can vote and also join the army. However, for the gambling, they are still considered as persons under age. On the other hand, with the age of 21, they are in their legal age and can do even better things, such as going to the casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City and play slot machines.

Gambling at the age of 21

It all started after the 1960s when the US changed the laws about age limits. With the time, society saw that the 18-year-old is completely capable of acting like an adult, which resulted in the 26th Amendment, that was confirmed in 1971 and changed all minimum age limits to 18. On the other hand, during this period, the fever of gambling started to skyrocket; for this reason, the US State Lotteries set their minimum age at 18. Besides, in most of the US countries, the minimum ages for lots of stuff are still at 18. Though, there is an indicative exception here – for the gambling the age is set up to be at 21. We can say that the main reason for that is because, in most of the casinos across the States, gambling is highly associated with the consummation of alcoholic beverage. If you want to gamble – you need to be in the age of majority, in other words, in the drinking age. As we can see, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 21, and ergo the gambling limits are the same.

Without regard to, the age restrictions about gambling are much serious than just an alcoholic consumption. The majority of games in the casinos are highly-addictive such as slot machines and card games that involve copious amounts of money as a stake. This is a problem for the majority of the young US citizens who are too young to start with the professional gambling at 18; also, the young people who are under the age of 21 are usually students, or they just started working, which makes them less attractive for the money investments and other money-involved games in the casino. For the same reason, the countries that allowed gambling with 18, did that only with the games like lottery and bingo; that games are treated as not addictive and are don’t have high-risk of losing money.

Although it is an official law, the people all across the States are quite rebellious because of this. There is a famous quote from the Jim Wheeler who said  “if you’re old enough to serve our country in foreign lands, you’re old enough to come to Las Vegas or Reno or Lake Tahoe and have a good time.” referring to the legal-gambling age that is 21. For instance, there are particular changes in the law system for some states in the US regarding age prohibitions. Nevada casinos reduced the alcohol restrictions from 21 to 18; but, this doesn’t mean that young people under 21 can drink alcohol, they can order cocktails and similar non-alcoholic beverages. The changes are happening, but the official law is still standing strong, and in most of the casinos across the US you need to be 21 in to enter and gamble. It is worth to mention that the laws are the same for the online casinos; if you want to gamble online, you need to attach the documents such as ID, etc. That means you can’t gamble there if you are under 21. Although it is not applicable to all the online gambling sites, the majority follows this rule.


It is widely known yet rarely accepted the fact, that gambling is still illegal if one is under 21. Studies have shown that young people can experience issues with gambling addiction. So, for precautionary reasons, gambling is forbidden for adolescents.

In conclusion, the reasons why the gambling age is 21 are because the laws for age limits are the same for gambling and alcohol, and they both are applicable in the casinos.

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