Gambling is an activity enjoyed by millions of people across the world. However, it is tightly regulated and strictly controlled, with stringent laws in place that determine who can gamble and where it can be done legally.
Perhaps the strictest laws surrounding gambling are in relation to age restrictions. In almost every country around the world, minors are prohibited from taking part in gambling. Does the legal age for gambling differ from country to country? Let’s find out.
Why is Gambling Age Restricted?
Before we get into the gambling ages found across different countries, it’s helpful to discuss why exactly we have age restrictions for gambling in the first place. Gambling has been enjoyed by various societies in a number of different forms for thousands of years.
In most countries, gambling is prohibited for those under the age of majority, which is the age when they are legally recognised as an adult. Why is this? Gambling can be fun, but it can also be harmful if it is approached in an irresponsible or reckless manner.
Gambling age restrictions are to do with our mental and emotional maturity. Our brains do not fully develop until we are in our 20s, which means that young people cannot be expected to make rational, informed decisions. This is why we have age limits on things like voting and driving, and, of course, gambling.
It also has to do with how gambling affects our brains. As young people have underdeveloped brains, it’s unknown how gambling, which can change the way our reward systems and dopamine production processes work, will affect them.
Casinos vs Online Gambling
The gambling industry is changing rapidly. In the past, casinos and dedicated halls were the only places people could go to gamble legally. Today, this has all changed. Now, the vast majority of people use their mobile devices and laptops to gamble. They use the internet to visit online casinos and gambling platforms where they can enjoy digital recreations of their favourite table games and slot machines.
Casinos often have bars as well, which makes it easy to find out how old do you have to be to gamble, as premises that sell alcohol are strictly for adults only. The rise of online gambling platforms made it more difficult for age restrictions to be implemented, but online services have recently developed new verification systems to ensure minors are not using their platforms to gamble.
Age Restrictions in the UK
Gambling began to flourish in the UK in the 1960s and then went through further deregulation in the early 2000s.
However, the UK has always had strict age-related gambling laws in place. People under the age of 18 are not permitted to gamble on any form of casino game, sports betting activity, or slot machine. They can’t play the lottery or buy scratch cards either.
What’s more, people under the age of 18 aren’t even allowed to enter betting premises in the UK. This includes things like casinos, betting shops, and bingo halls.
Permitting or allowing a person under the age of 18 to gamble is a serious offence that can lead to heavy fines and legal penalties.
The Rest of the World
For many countries, particularly other European countries, 18 is generally the standard legal gambling age. However, some countries have slightly different laws in place. It’s important to learn about these to ensure you are always adhering to the law wherever you are in the world.
The US uses a federal government system, which means that individual states are free to decide their own gambling laws. Most states, including the home of Las Vegas, Nevada, have opted to set the legal gambling age to 21, in line with the legal drinking age in most of the country.
This might seem at odds with a country so famous for the glitz and glamour of Vegas, but the reality is that the US has far stricter gambling laws than places like the UK.
In Portugal, the legal age for gambling is technically 18. However, some casinos have increased this all the way up to 25. Sweden is similar, with gambling permitted from 18 and up, but casinos are limited to players over the age of 20.
As we have demonstrated in the above article, the legal age for gambling often differs considerably from country to country. Across the board, the most common age is 18, although there are exceptions like the US. Some countries impose different restrictions for different forms of gambling, with many permitting only older players to enter and play in casinos.
Also gambling is so addictive, we have also covered this topic in our article Why Casino and Gambling is so addictive?