How Old Do You Have to Be to Go to a Casino?

Many young adults eagerly await the day they can first visit a casino. Casinos are fast-paced and exciting, and who wouldn’t be drawn to the allure of making money without having to work? The thrill of winning draws people of all ages to casinos all over the country. But, at what age can you enter a casino? While the answer may seem obvious, it is not quite so straightforward.

What’s the Legal Gambling Age in the US?

The legal age to enter a casino varies between 18-21 from state to state. While gambling laws fall under state jurisdiction, under the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Native American casinos are exempt from state jurisdiction and may lower the age to 18. However, these casinos are still subject to alcohol licensing laws, so casinos that serve alcohol will still prohibit individuals under the age of 21 from being in the casino.

States That Have a Minimum Age of 21

Most states limit casino entry to individuals over the age of 21. These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

States That Have a Minimum Age of 18

Some states have a minimum age of 18 for casinos. These states include Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New York, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. In California, Minnesota, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Washington, the minimum age of entry is 18 for Native American casinos that do not hold an alcohol license. For all other casinos, the minimum age is 21. Your best course of action is to research your preferred place to gamble and then contact the casino you wish to visit to find out their minimum age requirement.

You may notice that some states do not show up on any of the lists above at all. This is because certain states prohibit all casino gambling. These states include Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont. There are also no casinos in Washington, DC.

How to Gamble Responsibly

Regardless of your age, it is extremely important to gamble responsibly. While casinos can be a great form of entertainment, they can also be very dangerous places for people that struggle with compulsive gambling. Compulsive gambling is a condition in which individuals can not control their urge to gamble and will continue to do so, despite significant financial losses and to the detriment and destruction of their personal lives, work lives, and family lives.

Gambling can activate the reward centers of the brain; therefore, it can become addictive in susceptible people, similar to the way that drugs and alcohol can become addictive in certain people. If you feel you may be struggling with compulsive gambling, please seek professional help and contact an organization such as Gamblers Anonymous.

Even if you do not suffer from compulsive gambling, it is still important to gamble responsibly. First and foremost, realize that gambling is a form of entertainment and not a way to make money. If you do make some money, that is awesome! However, your goal going into a casino should be to have fun, not to win. It is also crucial to set a spending limit before you ever set foot through the door. Set your spending limit within the confines of your budget and only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Consider that money to be spent on entertainment and gone from your budget, just the same as a concert or festival ticket is money gone from your budget.

It is also essential to limit your time in the casino. The longer you stay, the more you will be tempted to go over budget. Gambling with a trusted friend where you hold each other accountable is a great way to keep yourself from getting into trouble. While most casinos do serve alcohol, it is best to limit or stay away from alcoholic beverages as they are well known to lower your inhibitions.

Lastly, do not gamble if you are depressed, anxious, or upset. Gambling when you are feeling down can lead to poor decision-making and make you more susceptible to the development of gambling addiction or just making poor choices you will later regret.

Your First Casino Visit

Your first casino visit should be memorable and fun! Before you gamble for the first time, take some time to learn the games and take advantage of any free lessons the casino may offer. Learn the odds for each game, and do not be embarrassed if you can’t afford more than the minimum buy-in. Staying within budget is extremely important. Be sure to follow the tips mentioned above and visit with trustworthy friends that will hold you accountable. That way, you will have a fantastic time during your very first casino visit.

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