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Gambling Legal Age

by Jerry "Jet" Whittaker
May 5, 2006

About gambling legal age in US –

A lot of variations can be seen in the way laws of different places treat the issues relating to the minimum legal age for gambling. This variation can be found especially in the different state laws of United States.

In the conventional American society, till mid 1960s, most of the state and federal laws considered 21 as the appropriate age for acquiring adult status. The issue of the majority age was highlighted with the Vietnam War, where people of 18 were sent off to war, but not allowed to vote. With the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, the voting age was lowered to 18 for all the federal and state laws. After its ratification in 1971, the minimum age limit for all purposes was brought down at 18.  

During this period, the wave of legal gambling came up and most of the US State Lotteries created between 1971 and the present made 18 the minimum age.

For most other purposes, the legal age is still 18; however, the legal age for drinking has been raised form 18 to 21 in all American States. Since casino games are closely associated with alcoholic beverages, the states have declared the minimum age of 21 for gambling in a casino.

About gambling legal age in other countries –

Compared to US, other countries present a different scenario. Countries other than US have been more consistent as regards the legal age for gambling. They have just one minimum age applying throughout the nation. The legal consequences where a minor is involved in illegal gambling do not differ much from province to province. Lawmakers have come to a conclusion that the maturity is reached at a younger age.

France had 21 as the minimum age till 1987 and then was lowered to 18. Bahamas had the minimum age for gambling at 21 in 1969, now it is 18.

Similarly, in 12 of the 16 states in Germany, the age for gambling was lowered from 21 to 18. In Portugal, the rules for the locals and the tourists vary. For casinos, it is 18 for foreigners and 21 for locals, even 25 in some cases.  

In Canada, the legal age is 18, casinos are open to 18 and 19 year olds.

England has 16 as the minimum limit for buying a lottery ticket (in America it is 18).

In some countries, the casinos are restricted to locals, open only to foreigners. With an objective of preserving the adult atmosphere, to protect foreign children and avoid bad press, such casinos still have the minimum age limits for the locals. For instance, as per Nepal’s law, casino gambling is restricted to foreigners of 21 or older.
























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