How Old do You Have to be to Gamble? The Legal Gambling Age isn’t 21 Everywhere

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As more and more states approve sports betting, more and more people are asking the question: How old do you have to be to gamble?

There are firm guidelines set for each state, with specific forms of gambling assigned their own age limits. And there are exceptions.

Several states continue to outlaw gambling entirely.

Use this guide to find out how old you need to be to gamble across the country.

How old to gamble?
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Gambling Guidelines Regarding Age Limits

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban on sports betting in 2018, states began to act on the opportunity, and additional gambling laws were quickly put into place.

States decided what kinds of gambling as well as the age limits would be accepted.

There are now roughly 30 states that allow sports betting, most of which require the customers to be 21 years of age.

Gambling on horse racing, playing Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and other forms with minor differences have age limits of 18-20, depending on the state.

The most common rule is that non-Tribal casinos – such as those on the Las Vegas Strip – generally require an age of 21 to gamble on their properties.

The Native American casinos, which have seen a gambling boom since the 2018 sports-betting decision, require customers to be at least 18 years of age.

Non-sports gambling such as lottery gambling, charitable gambling and bingo usually includes an age minimum of 18, with casino gambling and poker generally 21+ with variations of those limits common from state to state.

Nowhere in the US is the gambling age under.

How Old do You Have to be to Bet On Sports?

Almost all states require sports-betting customers at online sportsbooks to be at least 21, and customers must be within the state borders to wager legally – but you don’t have to be a resident of that state to participate.

Beginning in 2024, these are those states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Kentucky, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Wyoming and Washington D.C. have an 18+ age restriction, but sportsbooks such as BetMGM, FanDuel and Caesars operating in 18+ jurisdictions can shift the minimum age requirement to 21.

How Old do You Have to be to Play Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)?

An offshoot of modern (post 2018) sports betting is Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS).

Major sportsbooks FanDuel and DraftKings found their footing with DFS long before 2018, so they had a head start when legalized sports-betting laws went into effect.

DFS is legal in many states that do not yet allow conventional sports betting, with most states carrying a minimum age of 18. Alabama and Nebraska have a DFS minimum age of 19, while Louisiana, Iowa, Arizona and Massachusetts require participants to be at least 21.

How Old do You Have to be to Play Online Poker?

To play online poker – against peers and not against the house – customers must be 21.

States that currently allow this form of online gaming are Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey and Nevada.

Connecticut players, though the state OK’d online poker, are prohibited from playing because as of January 2024, there were no operators carrying a license for it.

How Old to Gamble at In-Person Casinos?

The minimum age to play at these land-based casinos is 21 for two big reasons: State law is usually 21 and the legal drinking age is 21 in most states. That adds up to good business.

The Native American casinos have exceptions that vary from state to state, so many have their age limit at 18 or 19, even though in many instances they aren’t able to sell alcohol.

If you’re 18, the following states allow some form of cards, poker and bingo, among other casino games, in tribal casinos: California, Idaho, Michigan, Washington, Minnesota.

Cardroom gambling is allowed in California, while Florida allows poker and bingo inside casinos.

Also, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming allow casino gaming at land-based casinos.

How Old do You Need to be to Gamble on Horse Racing?

The age restriction for wagering on horse races, both in-person or at the best horse racing betting sites, is generally 18 or older.

Exceptions include age 21+ for Iowa, Nevada, Texas and Arizona.

How Old do You Have to be to Play the Lottery, Powerball and Mega Millions?

Most states allow participation in Lottery, Powerball and Mega Millions – in some jurisdictions both in-person and online – with a minimum age of 18.

Exceptions include Nebraska (lottery games), which has its limit at 19 or older, and 21+ for Louisiana, Mississippi, Arizona and Iowa (lottery games).

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Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert
Jay Dieffenbach
Sports Betting Expert

Jay is a Sports Betting Writer at Techopedia.com, and has been working in US sports for more than 20 years. He's worked for Daily Racing Form, the Arizona Republic, The Athletic and FanDuel among other sports and gambling positions.