Home > Features > Casino visiting in the US – know your 18s from your 21s, and not just at blackjack

Casino visiting in the US – know your 18s from your 21s, and not just at blackjack


28 Nov 2016

A vast number of keen gamblers from around the world will one day have the desire to visit the US to experience its gaming environment, glitz and glamour.

Las Vegas is the obvious target destination in Nevada, but the majority of US states now offer some form of gambling and most have a selection of land-based casinos.

However, for those contemplating a road trip across the US, especially those of a teenage variety, it should be pointed out that the legal gambling age is not 18 everywhere.

In fact, some states allow gambling at the age of 18, for some it’s 21 and in others it is a mix between the pair depending on each individual establishment and the types of games being played.

The best advice is to check with the individual casinos before visiting to ensure that it doesn’t become a wasted journey.

The 18 Club

For those aged 18, 19 or 20 heading to any of the 335 casinos in Nevada to play the likes of blackjack or roulette, they are likely to end up disappointed as the minimum age for gambling is 21.

Somewhat fortunately, there are two states nearby to the north east where they will be allowed to hit the tables.

Head to Fremont in Wyoming to play at locations including the Wind River Casino, Little Wind Casino or the Shoshone Rose Casino, while the opportunities in Idaho are much more extensive.

Over 30 casinos are scattered around the state. For slot lovers, there are over 900 machines in the Fort Hall venue, while the Clearwater River Casino and Lodge extends over 40,000 square feet.

Above both on the north coast is Montana, which is another location where casinos can be entered from the age of 18.

Staying in the north but over on the east coast, Rhode Island has 18 as the minimum gambling age.

Hitting 21

In many states, doing the lottery or playing bingo is permitted at 18, but the casino-attending age is 21.

Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin are among the states where this viewpoint is followed.

Mohegan Sun in the foothills of Connecticut is one casino with a big reputation worth a visit, while southern Indiana is home to the French Lick resort, which is a place sure to strike a chord with those interested in landmarks.

The Tweeners

The other option for Vegas visitors too young to gamble in Nevada is to head slightly north west to other states where certain casinos require attendees to be 21, while others will allow those over 18 to enter.

Washington and Oregon both fall under this umbrella and are rife with Native American gaming venues, positioned on land historically assigned by the government for use by Native American tribes.

Be aware though as the selection of games available can differ at these types of casino, with slot machines occasionally programmed differently or table games played with varied rules from the norm.

Meanwhile, to the west coast of Nevada is the casino hotbed of California. In the north, near the capital of Sacramento is Thunder Valley, which once paid out over $12m thanks to a jackpot being hit on a progressive slot machine. There are over 3,000 machines in total.

New York, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Michigan are other states to have different entry ages from casino to casino.

The Complex Cases

In Maine and Missouri, bingo can be played from the age of 16, while under 18s can do the same in Texas as long as they are accompanied by someone over 21.

The lottery playing age is 19 in Nebraska, while a person is allowed to gamble in a casino in Alabama at 19. New Mexico has no age limit on bingo.

Louisiana, popular for its selection of riverboat casinos, allows individuals to play bingo at 18, but 21 is the age for both casinos and the lottery. Arizona adopts a similar stance.

Strict Iowa

Aside from Nevada, Iowa is the only US state that is especially severe when it comes to the age of their gamblers. In Iowa, people have to be 21 to visit casinos, do the lottery or play bingo.

Ameristar is one of the more popular riverboat casinos, while close to a dozen land-based establishments in operation.

Overall, for those who wish to head to the US to gamble soon after their 18th birthday, sticking around the perimeter of Nevada looks sensible and provides the most choice.

For those over 21, California and Washington have the most variety if a change is wanted from the hotbed of Nevada.