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Underage gambling

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Checked by Paul P.

Underage gambling in the United States is a concerning issue, primarily due to the potential risks and consequences associated with minors engaging in gambling activities.

While the legal age for most forms of gambling is typically 18 or 21, depending on the state and type of gambling, underage individuals may still attempt to access casinos, online gambling platforms, or purchase lottery tickets.

This page contains advice to identify, breach, and prevent underage gambling issues.

What is defined as underage gambling?

In the United States, underage gambling refers to individuals who are below the legal age for engaging in gambling activities.

The legal age for gambling in the U.S. varies depending on the type of gambling and the state regulations. For example, the legal age for casino gambling is typically 21, while some states may allow individuals to participate in certain forms of gambling, such as the lottery or bingo, at the age of 18.

Participating in any form of gambling, such as playing slot machines, poker, or betting on sports, before reaching the legally prescribed age is considered a violation of the law.

This is in place to protect minors from the potential risks associated with gambling and to ensure responsible participation in these activities.

State authorities enforce these regulations, and penalties for violations can include fines, license revocation, and other legal consequences.

The risks of underage gambling

Underage gambling poses several high-level risks to individuals and wider society. Understanding these risks is crucial for tackling issues and promoting responsible behavior among anyone under the legal gambling age.

The risks associated with underage gambling include:

  • Ahorro

    Financial consequences

    Minors may not fully comprehend the financial risks involved in gambling. They might end up losing money they can’t afford to lose, leading to financial difficulties.

  • slot-machine

    Forming unhealthy habits

    Early exposure to gambling may increase the likelihood of problematic gambling behavior in adulthood, developing unhealthy gambling habits and addiction.

  • Self Exclusion

    Social issues

    Underage gambling can lead to strained relationships with family and friends. Individuals may prioritize gambling over social activities or isolate themselves from others.

  • hammer

    Legal ramifications

    Violating gambling age restrictions can result in legal consequences, including fines, community service, and other penalties.

Reasons behind underage gambling

Gambling can be appealing to minors for many reasons, here are some of the key factors:

  • Video Poker

    Media influences

    Exposure to gambling through advertising, movies, and online content may make it seem glamorous or exciting.

  • Live Roulette

    Peer pressure

    The desire to fit in or be part of a social group may lead some minors to participate in gambling activities.

  • New Casino

    Perceived thrill

    The excitement and adrenaline rush associated with gambling can be attractive to minors seeking novel and thrilling experiences.

  • Icona Tasse

    Lack of awareness

    Some young individuals may perceive gambling as harmless fun without real-life consequences or an easy way to quickly make some extra money.

Preventing minors from accessing betting accounts is crucial to ensure responsible gambling practices and compliance with legal regulations. Here are some tips to help you secure your betting accounts and prevent unauthorized access by minors:

Potential signs of underage gambling

Parents need to be aware of potential signs that their child may be involved in online gambling or purchasing lottery-related items. Here are some key signs to look out for:

Protecting minors from gambling

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, between 4% and 8% of US minors between 12-17 have a serious gambling problem, and another 10-15% are at risk of developing one.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to try to limit exposure as much as possible within your home and family. Here are some tips to help you secure your betting accounts and prevent unauthorized access by minors.

A mobile phone showing a password and a lock

Secure your password

Always use a strong and unique password for each of your betting accounts. Avoid using easily any guessable information, such as birthdays or names. Update your passwords regularly and use secure password management tools to store and organize your login details.

A laptop and mobile phone with passwords on screen

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

Many betting platforms offer 2FA for an additional layer of customer security. Enable 2FA using methods like SMS codes, authenticator apps, or email verification to prevent easy access.

Two mobile devices, one logged in, one logged out

Logout and lock devices

Avoid leaving your gambling accounts logged in on any shared computers or devices in your home. Set a pin or use biometric authentication methods like fingerprint or face recognition on your devices to lock them securely.

A person's profile on a mobile screen

Check account activity

Monitor your betting accounts for any unusual or unauthorized activity.
If you notice anything suspicious, contact the betting platform’s support immediately.

Know Your Customer (KYC)

In addition to the above points, gambling sites also have measures in place to prevent minors from engaging in gambling activity.

The Know Your Customer (KYC) process aims to authenticate the identity of all players, prevent fraudulent activities, and comply with local legal requirements. This typically involves users submitting their ID and proof of address during the account registration process.

Blocking gambling apps

In addition to the above measures, parental control apps give parents the ability to monitor kids’ internet use and filter out potentially harmful content. Some apps block gambling websites completely for maximum security.

Here is a list of available apps to help you prevent underage gambling:

App nameKey features
Net NannyContent filtering
Screen time management
App blocking
Real-time alerts
QustodioWebsite filtering
App controls
Social media monitoring
Time limits and schedules
Norton FamilyWeb monitoring
Time management
Search supervision
App blocking
Kaspersky Safe KidsContent filtering
Screen time management
App usage control
BarkSocial media monitoring
Text and email alerts
Screen time management
Web filtering
FamiSafe Geo-fencing
App blocking
Screen time monitoring
Web content filtering
FamilyTime App blocking
Screen time control
SOS/Panic alert

18 and 21 are the big milestones for legal gambling in the USA – the specifics tend to vary by state. Some stuff is more consistent than others.

Lottery tickets, for example, are legal at 18 just about everywhere, with the exceptions being Arizona, Iowa, and Louisiana, where it’s 21, and Nebraska, where it’s 19.

State 🇺🇸 Legal casino gambling age Legal sports betting age
Alabama 21 N/A
Alaska 21 N/A
Arizona 21 N/A
Arkansas 21 21
California 18/21 (casino-specific) N/A
Colorado 21 18
Connecticut 21 N/A
Delaware 21 21
Florida 21 N/A
Georgia 18 N/A
Hawaii 21 N/A
Idaho 18 N/A
Illinois 21 21
Indiana 21 21
Iowa 21 21
Kansas 21 N/A
Kentucky N/A N/A
Louisiana 21 N/A
Maine 21 N/A
Maryland 21 N/A
Massachusetts 21 N/A
Michigan 18/21 (casino-dependent) 21
Minnesota 18 N/A
Mississippi 21 21
Missouri 21 N/A
Montana 18 18
Nebraska 21 N/A
Nevada 21 21
New Hampshire 21 18
New Jersey 21 21
New Mexico 21 21
New York 21 21
North Carolina 21 21
North Dakota 21 18
Ohio 21 N/A
Oklahoma 18 N/A
Oregon 21 18
Pennsylvania 21 21
Rhode Island 21 18
South Dakota 18 21
South Carolina 21 N/A
Tennessee N/A 21
Texas 21 N/A
Utah 21 N/A
Vermont 21 N/A
Virginia 21 21
Washington 18 18
West Virginia 21 21
Wisconsin 21 N/A
Wyoming 21 18

Legal gambling ages around the world

The legal gambling age varies between countries and sometimes between internal states or regions. Gambling laws are constantly subject to change and you should always check the local laws to ensure the correct minimum age.

Here is a generalized table with legal gambling ages for various countries:

Legal gambling age
United States 🇺🇸United States 18 or 21 (varies by state and gambling type)
Canada 🇨🇦18 or 21 (depending on the state)
United Kingdom 🇬🇧18 (16 for lotteries and soccer pools)
Australia 🇦🇺18 or 21 (depending on the state)
New Zealand 🇳🇿20
Germany 🇩🇪18
Italy 🇮🇹18
France 🇫🇷18
Spain 🇪🇸18
Japan 🇯🇵20
Singapore 🇸🇬21
China 🇨🇳18
South Africa 🇿🇦18
India 🇮🇳18 or 21 (depends on the state)
Brazil 🇧🇷18
Mexico 🇲🇽18
Argentina 🇦🇷18


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