Minimum Legal Age to Place a Bet
© Copyright April 27, 2001, all rights reserved worldwide. Gambling and the Law® is a registered trademark of Professor I. Nelson Rose, Whittier Law School, Costa Mesa, California.
This list of states, provinces, and countries illustrate the tremendous variations found in the way the law treats issues involving the minimum age to place a legal wager, particularly in the United States.
Until the mid-1960s, American society conventionally viewed 21 as the most appropriate age for full adult status, as reflected in most state and federal laws. The Vietnam War brought the age of majority status into the spotlight. Eighteen-year-olds were sent off to kill or be killed, but they could not vote. The result was the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18 for all elected positions, federal and state. After the 26th Amendment was ratified in 1971, it seemed logical to change all minimum age limits to 18.
The explosion of legal gambling, which the author has labeled "The Third Wave," occurred during this period. So, most U.S. State Lotteries, almost all of which were created between 1971 and the present, put the minimum age at 18.
Most legal minimum ages are still at 18. But, there has been one significant exception: In every state in America, the drinking age has been raised from 18 to 21. Because casino gaming is usually associated with the availability of alcoholic beverages, most states put the minimum age for gambling in a casino at 21. Casino-style games, including slot machines, are also the most dangerous forms of gambling.
Interestingly, in other countries, the trend is exactly the opposite. In France, the minimum age was 21, until 1987, when parliament lowered it to 18. Similarly, in 1969 the government of the Bahamas set the minimum age for gambling at 21, but the minimum is now 18. Twelve of the 16 states (Länder) in Germany have also lowered the age for casino gambling from 21 to 18. Portugal has different rules for tourists and locals: Casinos are open to foreigners over 18, but citizens of Portugal may not enter Portuguese casinos unless they are over 21, and some casinos restrict local play to residents over 25.
Countries outside the United States seem to be more internally consistent: They usually have one minimum age that applies throughout that nation; the legal consequences when an underage minor is involved in otherwise legal gambling do not vary from one province to another; and, the same minimum age applies to different forms of legal gambling. Lawmakers in other nations also have concluded that maturity is reached at a younger age. For example, in Canada, casinos are open to 18 and 19 year-olds; while in the U.S., the minimum age is almost always 21. Similarly, in England anyone over 16 may buy a lottery ticket; in America, the minimum age for lotteries is never less than 18, and a dealer who knowingly sells a ticket to a 16 year-old faces loss of his license and a criminal fine.
Historically, outside the mainland United States, casinos were restricted to resorts and spas, far from major population centers, and play was limited to foreigners, especially foreign tourists. The idea was to import the money and export the social problems. Restrictions on locals gambling can still be found throughout the world. In Puerto Rico, for example, it is against the law for local licensed casinos to advertise to the local population; this restriction was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, even though no such similar restrictions were placed on any other form of the Commonwealth's extensive legal gambling. Casinos which are limited to foreigners will still have minimum age limits, to preserve the adult atmosphere and to protect foreign children and avoid bad press. For example, the law in Nepal expressly restricts casino gambling to foreign visitors 21 years of age and older.
Antigua and Barbuda: Minors younger than 18 are not allowed where casino gaming is taking place; casino employees must be at least 21.
Aruba: No one under 18 years old is allowed in casinos.
The Bahamas: The Lotteries and Gaming Act of 1969 required players to be at least 21, but the minimum age has been lowered to 18.
Belgium: Casinos are technically "private clubs," limited to "members" at least 21 years old.
Bulgaria: Casinos opened in 1967, limited visitors from noncommunist bloc countries. Since 1990, casinos have been open to anyone over 18 years old.
British Columbia, Canada: Casinos, 19 years old; Bingo: minimum age is set by bingo licensee.
Denmark: Casino guest must be at least 18 years old.
Finland: The minimum age limit is 18 for Finland’s various casino-style games, including true casinos, slot machines in restaurants and bars, and low-stakes table games in arcades.
France: Parliament lowered the minimum gaming age for casinos from 21 to 18 on May 5, 1987.
Germany: The national government under Hitler passed laws in 1933 and 1938, prohibiting gaming by minors under 21. This age limit remained until the 1980s. Today, state (Länder) governments set their own age limits, and there has been a trend toward lowering the minimum gambling age. In fact 12 of 16 states in the united federal republic have lowered the minimum from 21 to 18.
Great Britain: Casinos are technically membership clubs and no-one under 18 may join.
Greece: An unusual age restriction: individuals must be at least 23 years old to enter a casino.
New South Wales, Australia: "A person under the age of 18 years cannot place a bet in any form of gaming and betting, except in sweepstakes and calcuttas where persons between the ages of 16 and 18 years can participate."
New Zealand: No one under 20 years old may enter the gaming area of a casino.
Nova Scotia, Canada: "No person under the age of 19 years may participate in gaming."
Ontario, Canada: An individual must be at least 19 to enter or gamble in a casino, and casinos are prohibited from advertising that "is specifically directed at encouraging individuals under nineteen (19) years of age to play games of chance in a casino." However, casino employees may be 18.
Portugal: A unique system: Casinos are open to foreigner over 18 years old, but Portuguese nationals are barred unless they are over 21 and in some casinos over 25.
Quebec, Canada: No one under 18 years old may enter a casino. It is against the law to sell a lottery ticket to anyone under 18.
Queensland, Australia: "Persons under the age of 18 years are not permitted in the casino."
Spain: "Minors under 18 are not allowed to gamble or enter into casinos, bingo halls, or slot machines parlors."
Tasmania, Australia: Minors, under 18, may not legally gamble. Casinos, on their own, have imposed a policy of not allowing minors on the main casino areas, though they may, if accompanied by an adult, be in other gaming areas.
Victoria, Australia: Individuals under 18 years old may not enter casinos.
The United States
|Lottery||Parimutuel Betting||Casinos & Slot Machines||Charity Bingo & Pull-tabs|
|District of Columbia||18||
A question mark ("?") without a number means that particular form of gambling is legal in that state, but the minimum age requirements, if any, are not known. A number with a question mark means there is a state limit, but it is unclear whether it applies. This is usually the case with Indian gaming, where tribes are often free to set their own limits. An arrow (18®21) indicates the minimum age is in the process of being raised from 18 to 21.
State-by-State Analysis of Gambling Laws
An adult who bets with a minor commits a misdemeanor. See, Commentary to Alabama Code §§13A-12-21 and –22 ("Commentary"), discussing former §13-7-25; see also §15-8-150 for pleading. According to the Commentary section entitled "Relationship to Existing Law," the Criminal Code was amended 30 years ago to leave "such subjects as adults gambling with minors to other controls such as the juvenile laws."
Lottery: Religious activists won an upset victory in November 1999, making Alabama only the third state this century to fail to vote in a state lottery.
Parimutuel betting: Alabama Code §11-65-44 sets the minimum age as 19 throughout the state. Previously, the minimum age for betting at horse and greyhound racetracks was 18 in some counties, 19 in others: Greene and Mobile – 18, Birmingham and Macon – 19. Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc., Pari-Mutuel Racing: 1996 at 59.
Bingo: Nonprofit organizations can run bingo games for charitable or educational purposes. The state has separate statutes for various counties and at least one city. All set the minimum playing age as well as the minimum age for conducting or assisting bingo at 19; however, there is no age limit for children accompanied by their parents. E.g., Alabama Constitutional Amendment No. 506, "Bingo Games In Etowah County": "No person under the age of 19 shall be permitted to play any game or games of bingo, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian¼"
Alaska has been considering allowing casino gambling on cruise ships between ports in the state, during the course of an international voyage.
Slot machines: Alaska Statutes §43.35.040 sets the minimum age at 18 and forbids the location of coin-operated amusement and gaming devices within a radius of 100 yards of a school building.
Bingo and pull-tabs: State statutes set the minimum age for bingo at 19, but the age for pull-tabs was raised from 19 to 21 on June 26, 1993. Alaska Statutes §§05.15.180 and 05.15.187.
Arizona is the only state attempting to implement a comprehensive plan for dealing with the minimum age for gambling. On March 14, 2000, House Bill 2131 ("H.B. 2131") became law, raising the gambling age from 18 to 21, effective June 1, 2003, for all wagers, including commercial, charitable, tribal and even social gambling.
Lottery: It is a misdemeanor to sell a lottery ticket to anyone under 18 (raised to 21 on June 1, 2003). Arizona Revised Statute §5-515; H.B. 2131. Before the passage of H.B. 2131, it was clearly not unlawful to give a lottery ticket to a minor as a gift. Section 5-520 contains a prohibition: "no prize may be paid on any winning ticket or share to any person who is under eighteen years of age [raised to 21 on June 1, 2003]." But, section 5-515 contained the following sentence: "This section does not prohibit the purchase of a ticket or share for the purpose of making a gift by a person eighteen years of age or older to a person less than eighteen years of age." H.B. 2131 repealed that sentence, making it a crime to give a lottery ticket to someone under 18 [21 on June 1, 2003], and the minor cannot collect if the ticket wins.
Parimutuel betting: Arizona Revised Statute §5-112 states, "A permittee shall not knowingly permit a minor [changed to "a person who is under twenty-one years of age" on June 1, 2003] to be a patron of the parimutuel system of wagering." The addition of the word "knowingly" in the statute allows an operator to raise the defense that it did not know a child was underage.
Casinos: Charities can operate casino nights. The state has entered into compacts with many tribes, authorizing the operation of slot machines and nonbanked, revolving deal, card games, primarily poker. The minimum age for Indian casinos in Arizona is 18 as of the date this is written. However, the compacts begin expiring in 2003, so the Governor is negotiating to raise the gambling age to 21 in all tribal casinos, pursuant to the mandate of the State Legislature that all "tribal-state gaming compacts shall prohibit persons under twenty-one years of age from wagering on gaming activities." H.B. 2131, effective March 14, 2000.
Bingo: At present, there is no statutory minimum age; however, the Bingo Section of the Department of Revenue has issued this rule: "No bingo card shall be sold or bingo prize awarded to any person under 18 years of age." Arizona Administrative Code R15-7-223. Like every other form of gambling, the minimum age will be 21 beginning on June 1, 2003, pursuant to H.B. 2131.
Parimutuel betting: Arkansas’s horse-racing statute expressly prohibits "any person under eighteen (18) years of age to be a patron of the parimutuel or certificate system of wagering conducted or supervised by it." But it is unclear if such persons are prohibited from attending horse races. The dog-racing counterpart prohibits employing a minor or allowing "any minor to be a patron at the racetrack." This language seems closer to prohibiting the presence of children. Arkansas Statutes §§23-110-405 and 23-111-308.
Lottery: California has a complete set of restrictions, typical of the state lotteries that have addressed youth gambling:
(a) No tickets or shares in Lottery Games shall be sold to persons under the age of 18 years. Any person who knowingly sells a ticket or share in a Lottery Game to a person under the age of 18 years is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person under the age of 18 years who buys a ticket or share in a Lottery is guilty of a misdemeanor. In the case of Lottery tickets or shares sold by Lottery Game Retailers or their employees, these persons shall establish safeguards to assure that the sales are not made to persons under the age of 18 years. In the case of the dispensing of tickets or shares by vending machines or other devices, the Commission shall establish safeguards to help assure that the vending machines or devices are not operated by persons under the age of 18 years. All tickets or shares in Lottery Games shall include, and any devices which dispense tickets or shares in Lottery Games shall have posted in a conspicuous place thereupon, a notice which declares that state law prohibits the selling of a Lottery ticket or share to, and the payment of any prize to, a person under the age of 18 years.
California Government Code §8880.52.
"No prize shall be paid to any person under the age of 18 years." Id. at §8880.32.
Parimutuel betting: The age limit of 18 for horse races was established by regulations of the Racing Control Board, not by the legislature in a statute.
Casinos: On March 7, 2000, voters approved Proposition 1A, amending the State Constitution, to allow federally recognized Indian tribes to have a monopoly on full casinos (banking card games, like blackjack, and all forms of slot machines). Gov. Gray Davis signed a model compact with a majority of the state’s100+ tribes, which allows 18 year-olds to gamble in Indian casinos. Patrons have to be over 21 only if alcohol is served at the gaming tables and slot machines. Tribes are free to place higher age limits on its patrons and employees, and can change the age limits whenever they wish. For example, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians announced in September 1995 that it was raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 for its casino near Palm Springs and that it was firing all casino workers under 21; Harrah’s will run the Rincon casino with a minimum gambling age of 21.
California law also allows cities and counties the local option of licensing gaming clubs, limited to nonbanked table games, without slot machines. There are more than 300 gaming clubs operating throughout the state; most age limits appear to be 21. The only state limit is a restriction requiring operators and owners to be at least 18 (California Business & Professions Code §19809).
Bingo: Minors (currently those under age 18) are not allowed to participate in bingo games. California Penal Code §326.5.
Lottery: Colorado Revised Statute §24-35-214 makes it illegal to sell a lottery ticket to anyone under 18 or for any person under 18 to purchase a ticket. However, it permits the receipt of a lottery ticket given as a gift to a person under 18. The difference can be significant: "Any prize won by a person under 18 years of age who purchased a winning ticket in violation of section 24-35-214(1)(c) shall be forfeited. If a person otherwise entitled to a prize or a winning ticket is under 18 years of age, the director may direct payment of the prize by delivery to an adult member of the minor’s family or a guardian of the minor of a check or draft payable to the order of such minor." Id. at §24-35-212(4).
Parimutuel betting: It is a petty offense (maximum fine $100) to sell a parimutuel ticket to any person under the age of 18, or for anyone under 18 to purchase, redeem or attempt to purchase or redeem a parimutuel ticket. Id. at §12-60-601.
Casinos: Privately owned casinos are limited to three little mountain towns, with $5 maximum bets. Colorado has also signed compacts with two Indian tribes. The age limit for casinos is 21: minors can pass through the casino but not place wagers, collect or share winnings, or even "sit on a chair or be present" at a gaming table or slot machine. Both the minor and the casino would be committing misdemeanors. If the child is under 18, the adult can also be prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (Employees may be under 21). Id. at §12-47.1-809.
Bingo and pull-tabs: State law prohibits anyone under 18 from playing bingo or buying pull-tabs. However, it also allows anyone 14 or older to "assist in the conduct of bingo or pull- tabs." Id. at §12-9-107.
Connecticut’s off-track betting operation, owned and operated by a private, publicly traded company, Autotote, is taking telephone wagers from around the nation. Tribally owned Foxwoods is probably the largest casino in the world.
Lottery: Games are limited to players over 18. "No person shall sell a lottery ticket to a minor and no minor shall purchase a lottery ticket. Any person who violates the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor. A minor may receive a lottery ticket as a gift." Connecticut General Statute §12-813(d). As with many gambling enabling statutes, Connecticut requires the regulators of its State Lottery to "adopt regulations¼ which shall include¼ limitations on advertising and marketing content to assure public information as to the odds of winning the lottery and the prohibition of sales of tickets to minors." Id. at §12-568a.
Parimutuel betting: Connecticut allows betting on jai alai, as well as on racing. "Any person who knowingly permits any minor to wager in any gambling activity¼ and any minor who places a wager ¼ shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor." Id. at §12-576(a). Connecticut not only bars anyone under 18 from betting, but also prohibits "the presence of any minor under the age of 18 being present in any room, office, building or establishment when off-track betting takes place." Id. at §12-576(b). The fine is only $25, but it is imposed both on the operator and on minors over the age of 16.
Casinos: Charity "Las Vegas Nights" are limited to patrons over 18. Connecticut General Statute §186a. The state prohibits anyone under 16 from even being present in a room where gambling is taking place. Connecticut has signed compacts with two Indian tribes, and more are seeking federal recognition. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe apparently felt that 18 was too young, and put its age limit at 21. The tribe’s casino, Foxwoods, is the most profitable casino in the world, with blackjack, craps, and 5,000 slot machines.
Bingo and pull-tabs: In its "Sealed tickets" statute, Connecticut prohibits the sale to any person less than 18 years of age. Id. at §7-169h.
Lottery: Delaware has one of the strongest set of restrictions of any State Lottery: It locked its 18-year-old age limit into the state constitution. Delaware Constitution art. 2, §17. However, state statutes, while prohibiting the sale of lottery tickets to persons under 18, expressly allow the purchase of a ticket for the purpose of making a gift by a person 18 years of age or older to a person less than that age. Delaware Code tit. 29, §4810.
Parimutuel betting and slot machines: While racetracks appear to put the limit at age 18, the state recently amended its laws to allow video lottery machines in racetracks, with an age limit of 21.
Bingo: A person has to be 18 or over to participate in any charitable gambling, the prize for which is money; yet anyone over 16 may participate in bingo and other charitable games. This must limit 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to games where prizes are merchandise. Id. at tit. 28, §1139.
Casinos and slots: The State Lottery has VLTs at racetracks; age limit is 21. Id. at tit. 29, §4810.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Lottery: Limited to players over 18, but the Lottery will pay minors who win prizes. DC Code §2-2535.
Casinos and bingo: Charities in the District of Columbia can run "Monte Carlo Night Parties" as well as bingo. The minimum age to participate as well to be present is 18, but minors under 18 may be present if accompanied by an adult. Id. at §§2-2522.1, 2-2534.
Social, small-stakes gambling is legal, but minors under the age of 18 may not participate in one of these "penny-ante games," defined as "a game or series of games of poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes, or mah-jongg in which the winnings of any player in a single round, hand, or game do not exceed $10 in value." Florida Statute tit. XLVI, §849.085.
Lottery: Minors under age 18 are prohibited from purchasing lottery tickets. Id. at tit. VI, §24.1055.
Parimutuel betting: Florida has not only dog and horse tracks, but also jai alai. State statutes prohibit wagering by a person under the age of 18 but permit admittance if the minor is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Id. at §550.0425.
Bingo: State law prevents anyone under 18 from being allowed to play any bingo game or be involved in the conduct of a bingo game in any way. Id. at §849.0931.
Casinos and slots: Age limits at tribal casinos and cruises to nowhere (casino games opened in international waters, three miles out in the Atlantic, 12 miles in the Gulf of Mexico), are up to the operators. Florida allows commercial card clubs, limited to poker and $10 pots.
The state legislature has enacted a unique law creating civil liability along with the more common criminal punishments. "A parent shall have a right of action against any person who shall play and bet at any game of chance with his minor child for money or any other thing of value without the parent’s permission." Georgia Code §51-1-18.
Lottery: State statutes not only prohibit anyone under 18 from buying lottery tickets but also require conspicuous labels, prohibiting minors from using any electronic or mechanical devices related to the lottery. Id. at §50-27-10.
Bingo: State law allows a person under 18 to play bingo if accompanied by an adult. Id. at §16-12-58.
Hawaii, Tennesse and Utah are the only states that have not legalized some form of commercial gambling. Hawaii, like many other states, does allow "social gambling" -- the minimum age is 18. Hawaii Revised Statute §712-1231. The Legislature has been considering allowing casino gambling, either in selected areas or on cruise ships.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe made the most serious attempt of any federally recognized tribe to set up nationwide Internet and telephone lotteries. The Tribe’s "U.S. Lottery" was discontinued after adverse court decisions.
Lottery: Idaho Code §67-7413 prohibits the knowing sale of tickets to anyone under 18.
Parimutuel betting: Minors are prohibited from using the parimutuel system. Idaho Code §54-2512. The Idaho State Racing Commission promulgated rules expounding the restriction: "No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall be allowed to wager¼ [or] be granted a license to work in the parimutuel department." Idaho Administrative Code 11.04.01.901.21 and .22.
Bingo: A person under 18 may not play bingo for a cash prize or games where the prize exceeds $25 worth of merchandise. Idaho Code §67-7703. Therefore, children under 18 may play bingo for money for smaller prizes.
Casinos and slots: Age limits at tribal casinos not known. The governor signed a compact with Coeur d’Alenes allowing a federal judge to decide whether gaming devices will be allowed. Other tribes are protesting, because they did not agree to this test case.
Illinois is unique in defining a minor (at least under the horse-racing statutes) as "any individual under the age of 17 years." Illinois Revised Statutes ch.230, §5/3.08. The state also makes a distinction between casino gambling run by charities -- age 18 -- and casino gambling run for profit on riverboats -- age 21.
Lottery: In 1997 the State Legislature made it more difficult for anyone under 18 to play the State Lottery. It repealed a statute which had allowed adults to purchase tickets as gifts for children, and added a provision forbidding payment of prizes to minors under 18. HB1802, amending 20 ILCS §1605/15 and repealing 1605/18. Selling a ticket to anyone under the age of 18 is a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense, a Class 4 felony for subsequent violations. A minor who buys a lottery ticket is guilty of a petty offense. Id. at §1605/15.
Parimutuel betting: Minors (defined as those under 17) are forbidden from being admitted as a patron during a racing program unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Exceptions are made for employees, licensees, owners, trainers, jockeys, or drivers. Id. at ch. 230, §5/26.
Casinos and slots: The state has both riverboat and charity casinos. The state Riverboat Gambling Act prohibits any person under 21 from even being permitted on an area of a riverboat where gambling is being conducted. A riverboat casino operator was fined and a guard fired for allowing a mother with her infant in a baby carriage onboard. It is a Class B misdemeanor to permit "a person under 21 years to make a wager." Id. at ch.230, Act 10, §18. An exception is made for employees, but workers must be at least 21 to perform any function involved in gambling. Id. at §10/11. Illinois charitable casinos do a multimillion dollar business. The "Charitable Games Act" allows the following games: roulette, blackjack, poker, pull-tabs, craps, bang, beat the dealer, big six, gin rummy, five card stud poker, chuck-a-luck, keno, hold-em poker, and merchandise wheel with a $10 maximum bet. Unlike for-profit riverboat casinos, charity casinos are open to anyone over 18. Id. at §30/8.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Minimum age for bingo and pull-tabs is 18. Id. at ch.230, §§20/4 and 25/2. In fact, persons under 18 may not be in the area where bingo is being played unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Lottery: Minimum age is 18. Prizes may not be paid to anyone under 18, unless the ticket was received as a gift. Indiana Code §§4-30-9-3, 4-30-11-3, 4-30-12-1, and 4-30-13-1.
Parimutuel betting: Minimum age to bet seems to be always 18, although the law sets slightly different ages for being present at tracks and OTB outlets.
(a) A person less than eighteen (18) years of age may not wager at a horse racing meeting.
(b) A person less than seventeen (17) years of age may not enter the grandstand, clubhouse, or similar areas of a racetrack at which wagering is permitted unless accompanied by a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years of age.
(c) A person less than eighteen (18) years of age may not enter a satellite facility.
Id. at §4-31-7-2(2).
Minimum age to work at a racetrack is 16, but the racing commission can license even younger children who are working for their parent or legal guardian. Id. at §4-31-6-5.
Casinos: Indiana has riverboat gambling; the current controversy is whether the boats actually have to sail. Anyone under 21 is prohibited from being in the area of a riverboat where gambling is being conducted; although, the minimum age for an occupational license is 18. Id. at §§4-33-8-3 and 4-33-9-12.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Players must be 18 or older. Id. at §4-32-9-34; Indiana Administrative Code tit. 45, regulation 18-3-2 (Department of State Revenue).
Iowa may have more forms of legal gambling than any state, other than Nevada -- everything from bingo and amusement games to casinos and sports pools. Most are low-stakes and limited to players over 21; but not all.
Lottery: Iowa raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 in 1994. Present law prohibits the sale of a lottery ticket to persons under the age of 21, but allows adults to buy tickets for them as gifts. A licensee or a licensee's employee who knowingly offers to sell a lottery ticket to anyone under 21 is guilty of a simple misdemeanor and the seller’s license is suspended. As for the minor: "A prize won by a person who has not reached the age of twenty-one but who purchases a winning ticket or share in violation of this subsection shall be forfeited." Iowa Code §§99E.18(2).
Parimutuel betting: Iowa raised the minimum age here as well, from 18 to 21, in 1994. Id. at §99D.11(7). Permitting a person under 21 to make a parimutuel wager is a simple misdemeanor. Id. at §99D.24.
Casinos: In 1989 riverboat casinos became the first area where Iowa raised the minimum gambling age from 18 to 21. Id. at §99F.9(5). It is against the law for a licensee to knowingly allow a minor to participate in gambling, or even to be in the area of the excursion boat where gambling is being conducted, unless the minor is an employee 18 years or older. Indian tribes assert they are not bound by this state law and one lowered the minimum age to 18 in 1999. The minimum age for low stakes social gambling, including card games and sports pools, was raised from 18 to 21 in 1994. Id. at §99B.6(1)(k).
Bingo: Iowa makes some specific exemptions to its general prohibition on gambling by anyone under 21. Charitable gambling, bingo and raffles, has no age limits. There are no age limits at all for games of chance at carnivals, as long as only non-cash merchandise worth no more than $50 is given as prizes. Id. at §99B.7. The Iowa State Lottery, but not charities, can sell pull-tabs; legal age is 21.
The general law of Kansas defines a minor as "a person under 21 years of age," yet the lower age of 18 is used for both legal and illegal gambling statutes. Kansas Statutes §41-2601(l) and (m).
Lottery: Kansas goes further than most states in preventing children from participating in the State Lottery. Besides the usual restriction that licensees must be at least 18, the state legislature has prohibited the Kansas lottery from "recruiting for employment or as a volunteer any person under 18 years of age for the purpose of appearing, being heard or being quoted in any advertising or promotion of any lottery in any electronic or print media." Id. at §§74-8708, 74-8718, and 74-8722.
Parimutuel betting: The legislature put the same ban on the Kansas racing commission, prohibiting the use of children in commercials. It is a crime to sell a parimutuel ticket to a person knowing such person to be under 18 years of age. Those under 18 are also specifically barred from buying tickets. Kansas Statutes §§74-8810 and 74-8839.
Casinos: The state is in the middle of a protracted fight over Indian casinos. Although the State Legislature created a detailed system for negotiating compacts, Kansas Statutes §§46-2301 et. seq., including a joint committee on gaming compacts, no mention was made of minimum age limits. The Legislature’s main concern was precluding slot machines and electronic gaming devices. "’Tribal gaming’ does not include games on video lottery machines... that the Kansas lottery is prohibited from conducting..." Id. at §74-9802.
Bingo and pull-tabs: The minimum age limit of 18 is required to participate in the management, operation or conduct of any game of bingo. Kansas Statute §79-4706. This would appear to put the minimum age at 18 to work in a bingo hall, but no age limit is placed on patrons.
Lottery: It is a violation to knowingly sell a lottery ticket to someone under 18 and a misdemeanor to do it a second time. This would not prohibit adults from buying lottery tickets for minors. Kentucky Revised Statute §154A.990.
Parimutuel betting: Although Kentucky statutes dealing with age limits do not expressly mention parimutuel wagers, the state places an age restriction of 18 on all similar activities (except drinking); therefore, it is safe to assume that it is illegal for anyone under 18 to bet at racetracks. Id. at §2.015. The state’s racing commissioners also report the minimum age as being 18. Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc., Pari-Mutuel Racing: 1996 at 59.
Bingo: Kentucky has a "Charitable Gaming" Act, which controls bingo games. The age limit is 18. A charitable organization may permit persons under 18 to play bingo if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and if only non-cash prizes are awarded. Kentucky Revised Statute §238.545.
The latest state to raise the minimum age for some forms of gambling. Casino gaming was always limited to players over 21, but state Senator Dardenne’s SB33 in 1998 raised the age from 18 to 21 for the State Lottery and privately-owned video poker machines. A 19-year-old and the owner of a bar with video poker machines filed suit in January 1999, claiming the new law violates the state constitution. The argument had some merit, because 18-year-olds are legally adults in Louisiana, and the state has the strongest provision found in any state constitution against age discrimination. But, on January 29, 2001, a majority of the Supreme Court of Louisiana held it was not unconstitutional to prohibit 18-, 19- and 20-year-old adults from participating is some forms of legal gambling. The Court looked to its precedent from five years earlier, where it upheld raising the drinking age from 18 to 21 to protect both the young adults and society. Latour v. State, 2001 WL 69504 (Case No. 2000-1176, La. 1/29/01). Louisiana has everything except sports betting: Riverboat casinos, two Indian casinos, America's first urban land-based casino in New Orleans, video poker machines in many parishes, with large numbers at truckstops and racetracks, electronic bingo machines, parimutuel betting and a State Lottery.
Lottery: Knowingly selling a ticket to anyone under 21 leads to a fine of $100 to $500; the minor is fined up to $100; but, adults may purchase lottery tickets for children as gifts. Louisiana Revised Statutes §§47:9025 and 47:9070.
Parimutuel betting: The State Legislature told the State Racing Commission to adopt rules and regulations to exclude and eject "persons¼ who are not of age." Id. at §4:193. Anyone six or above may, with the permission of the racing association, be allowed to attend any race meeting if accompanied by a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian, but minors are never allowed to engage in wagering. Applicants for licensure as a jockey, etc. must be at least 16. Id. at §§4:150 and 4:157. Because "minor" is defined as anyone under 18, that is the minimum age for parimutuel betting.
Casinos and slot machines: Although 21 is the age limit for the widespread video poker machines, riverboat casinos and Louisiana’s one very large land-based casino in New Orleans, there is an extraordinary difference in the details. In all cases, underage patrons cannot collect; winnings are paid to the state. Punishments vary; the video poker law adds an additional penalty if the patron is under 15; but, the most dramatic differences are the ability of an operator to raise a "good faith" ("I thought he was over 21") defense.
The riverboat law, id. at §27:85, reads as follows:
Any licensee, employee, or other person who intentionally violates or permits the violation of any of the provisions of this Section may be imprisoned for not more than six months or fined not more than five hundred dollars, or both.
In any prosecution or other proceeding for the violation of any of the provisions of this Section, it shall be no defense that the licensee, employee, or other person believed the person to be twenty-one years old or over.
The law for the land-based casino, id. at §27:260:
Any casino operator, licensee, or other person who intentionally violates or permits the violation of any of the provisions of this Section and any person under twenty-one years of age who violates any of the provisions of this Section may be punished by imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to one thousand dollars, or both.
In any prosecution or other proceeding for the violation of any of the provisions of this Section, it shall be a defense that the casino operator, employee, dealer, or other person had a reasonable factual basis to believe and in good faith believed the person was twenty-one years old or over.
The video poker law, id. at §14:90.4:
(a) For allowing a person under the age of twenty-one to play or operate a video draw poker device at a licensed establishment, unless the licensee, his employee, or agent reasonably believed that the person was twenty-one years old or older:
(i) For a first or second violation, a fine of one thousand dollars shall be imposed.
(ii) For a third or subsequent violation, license revocation shall be imposed.
(b) For allowing a person under the age of twenty-one to play or operate a video draw poker device at a licensed establishment when the licensee, his employee, or agent is shown to have known or reasonably believed he was allowing a person under the age of twenty-one years old to play or operate a video draw poker device, or for allowing a person under the age fifteen years old to play or operate a video draw poker device at a licensed establishment regardless of what the licensee, his employee or agent knew or reasonably believed about the age of that person:
(i) For a first or second violation, license revocation may be imposed.
(ii) For a first or second violation, a fine of one thousand dollars shall be imposed if the license is not revoked.
(iii) For a third or subsequent violation, license revocation shall be imposed.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Louisiana has an 18 year age limit on bingo, but not on charity raffles: "No licensee shall allow any person under eighteen years of age to assist in the holding, operation, or conduct of any game of chance. Charitable raffles... shall be exempted from requirements of this Subsection." Id. at §4:714.
Lottery: Maine has one of the weakest regulatory schemes for its State Lottery. Tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18, but may be bought by adults as gifts for minors. The minor who buys illegally is subject to no punishment. In addition, there is no penalty for unintentionally selling to a minor. The only punishment comes in when a lottery agent knowingly sells to a minor, but this is punished as a civil, not criminal, violation, with a maximum fine of only $200. Maine Revised Statutes tit. 8, §§374 and 380.
Parimutuel betting: Off-track betting facilities are open to children under age 16 when accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or custodian. A person under the age of 18 is not only prohibited from participating in a parimutuel pool, but may not come within 15 feet of a betting window or other place for accepting wagers. Id. at tit. 8, §§275-D and 278.
Bingo and pull-tabs: No one under the age of 16 years is permitted to take part in the conduct of, nor participate in, the game of beano or bingo, nor shall such minor be admitted to the playing area unless accompanied by parent, guardian or other responsible person. Id. at tit. 17, §319.
Casinos: Charities can operate low limit "games of chance" (limited dice and card games, including blackjack) and up to five "electronic video machine," but not roulette or slot machines. Id. at tit. 17, §§332, 341. Players and employees are limited to persons 16 and over; although minors under 16 years may sell chances "in relation to charitable, religious or recognized youth associations." Id. at tit. 26, §773; tit. 17, §340.
Maryland’s gambling laws contain a number of unique quirks.
Lottery: The state follows most other states with state lotteries, in requiring that no ticket be sold to a person the seller knows is under 18, while allowing adults to buy tickets for minors as gifts. Lottery sellers must be at least 21. Maryland State Government Codes §§9-112 and 9-124.
Parimutuel betting: Minimum age of 18 posted at tracks.
Casinos and slot machines: Charities used to be able to operate slot machines in some counties. Now they are limited to a few dice games and card games, including blackjack. The age limit is 21. Maryland Statutes, Code of 1957, art. 27, §255.
Bingo: Maryland’s bingo laws are unique in two aspects: The state legislature has passed specific statutes for individual counties rather than a single law covering the entire state, and some statutes explicitly allow 16-year-olds to play bingo. Maryland Criminal Law Code art. 27, "Gaming."
Lottery: The state follows many other states in requiring that no ticket be sold to a person the seller knows is under 18, while allowing adults to buy tickets for minors as gifts. Lottery sellers must be at least 21. Massachusetts General Laws ch. 10, §§24 and 29.
Parimutuel betting: Massachusetts does not even allow minors (those under age 18) to attend its horse and dog races, let alone make bets. But the penalties are very small. First-time violators are fined no more than $100. Even permitting a minor to make wagers subjects a track to a fine of no more than $100. Id. at ch. 128A, §§9 and 10.
Bingo and pull-tabs: In Massachusetts, bingo is called beano. State law requires "that no person under 18 years of age shall be permitted in that portion of any building or premises of the licensee during such time as such game is being played." Id. at ch. 10, §38.
Casinos and slots: Political negotiations are continuing to allow an Indian tribe to own a casino, with a minimum gambling age of 21, and for horse and dog tracks would get slots; but, so far the Legislature has not passed the necessary legislation.
Lottery: It is a misdemeanor to knowingly sell, or offer to sell, a lottery ticket to anyone under 18. Although tickets may not be sold to minors, an adult may buy one as a gift for someone under 18. State law also requires a person to be at least 18 in order to acquire a lottery resale license. Michigan Compiled Laws §§432.11 and 432.29. House Bill 5819 was introduced in Michigan on May 23, 2000, to raise the minimum age to 21 to purchase or receive a lottery ticket.
Parimutuel betting: "A holder of a race meeting license shall not knowingly permit a person less than 18 years of age to be a patron of the parimutuel wagering conducted or supervised by the holder." Id. at §431.72. A bill is pending to raise the age here as well.
Casinos and slot machines: Commercial casinos in Detroit appear to have a minimum gaming age of 21. High-stakes tribal Indian casinos throughout the state appear to be mostly 18, but not necessarily because 18-21 year olds are a large market. For example, in July, 2000, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians lowered the gambling age from 21 to 18, as it was allowed to do under its tribal-state compact, at the request of parents who wanted their young adult children to be able to attend concerts in the casino. The biggest problem now is keeping those under 21 from drinking. Charities are also allowed to run "millionaire parties," i.e., casino nights; with a minimum age of 18. Id. at §432.110a.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Charity game tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18. However, like lottery tickets, adults may buy charity pull-tabs for minors as gifts. Id. at §432.107a.
Minnesota almost joined Arizona as only the second state to have a comprehensive plan for dealing with the minimum age for gambling, but the effort failed. Unlike Arizona’s tribal-state compacts, which have sunset provisions, Minnesota’s compacts have no expiration dates, giving the state no power to make additional demands on its tribes. The compacts allow tribes to put the minimum age at 18. The State Legislature passed a statute mandating that Indian casinos be restricted to adults 21 and over and added that the minimum age for all other forms of legal gambling in the state also be raised from 18 to 21 if more than half the tribes agreed to that limit. The tribes, however, took this as a trick to get them to reopen compact negotiations on other matters and rejected the move to 21.
Lottery: Minnesota is unusual in setting up a complex system for dealing with underage lottery players, including prohibiting minors from receiving prizes. This would seem to preclude gifts by adults. Minnesota Statute §349A.12. Prohibited acts:
• Subdivision 1. Purchase by minors. A person under the age of 18 years may not buy nor redeem for a prize a ticket in the State Lottery.
• Subdivision 2. Sale to minors. A lottery retailer may not sell and a lottery retailer or other person may not furnish or redeem for a prize a ticket in the State Lottery to any person under the age of 18 years.
It is an affirmative defense, meaning the burden is on the lottery retailer to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he reasonably and in good faith relied upon the minor’s identification for proof of age.
Parimutuel betting: The age restrictions are identical to the State Lottery. Id. at §§240.13 and 240.25.
Casinos: More legal full-scale Indian casinos than Atlantic City, with minimum age limits currently at 18.
Bingo and pull-tabs: No one under 18 may buy a pull-tab, tipboard ticket, paddlewheel ticket, or raffle ticket, or a chance to participate in a bingo game other than a bingo game exempt or excluded from licensing; violation is a misdemeanor. A licensed organization or employee who allows a person under age 18 to participate in lawful gambling is guilty of a misdemeanor. Id. at §349.2127.
Mississippi is one of the toughest states on both casinos and minors who violate the law: The underage gambler may not keep the winnings, and the casino may not use the excuse that it thought the minor was over 21.
Casinos: Still no state lottery; but Mississippi is the third largest commercial casino state, after Nevada and New Jersey, with true riverboat casinos as well as dockside casinos that are technically over water but cannot move.
(1) A person under the age of twenty-one (21) years shall not:
(b) Be employed as a gaming employee.
(2) Any licensee, employee, dealer or other person who violates or permits the violation of any of the provisions of this section, and any person under twenty-one (21) years of age who violates any of the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisoned in the county jail not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(3) In any prosecution or other proceeding for the violation of any of the provisions of this section, it is no excuse for the licensee, employee, dealer or other person to plead that he believed the person to be twenty-one (21) years old or over.
Mississippi Code §75-76-155.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Charity bingo operators are given the unusual (for bingo) option of excluding anyone under 18, merely by posting a written notice. The state charitable bingo law provides that no licensee shall allow anyone under 18 to play a bingo game unless accompanied by his or her parent or legal guardian. Id. at §97-33-67. The state allows video pull-tab and video bingo machines.
Lottery: Tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18; however, gifts by adults to minors are permitted. No one under 21 may be licensed as a lottery game retailer. Missouri Revised Statutes §§313.260 and 313.280.
Parimutuel betting: A strangely worded statute prohibits minors from "knowingly making or attempting to make any wager on any horse race." I do not know how a minor could accidentally make a bet. The other possible interpretation, that the minor know that the wager was illegal, is almost never accepted by courts, due to the maxim that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Racetrack licensees may not knowingly permit anyone under 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, into any parimutuel wagering area. Licensees are also prohibited from knowingly permitting any individual under 18 to place a wager. Id. at §313.670.
Casinos: Missouri has two unusual provisions for its large boat-in-a-moat casino industry: The State Legislature explicitly gave cities the option to completely exclude minors from riverboat casinos, and, according to a statute passed decades before the legalization of casinos, a minor’s parent or conservator may sue to recover any money lost while gambling. The other provisions of the Excursion Gambling Boat Statute are typical:
A person under twenty-one years of age shall not make a wager on an excursion gambling boat and shall not be allowed in the area of the excursion boat where gambling is being conducted; provided that employees of the licensed operator of the excursion gambling boat who have attained eighteen years of age shall be permitted in the area in which gambling is being conducted when performing employment-related duties, except that no one under twenty-one years of age may be employed as a dealer or accept a wager on an excursion gambling boat.
It is a misdemeanor to permit a person under 21 to make a wager. Id. at §§434.060 and 313.817.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Children as young as 16 may play or participate in the conducting of bingo, and even those under 16 may attend when accompanied by a parent or guardian, although a child under 16 is not supposed to be allowed to play for money: "No person under the age of sixteen years may play or participate in the conducting of bingo. Any person under the age of sixteen years may be within the area where bingo is being played only when accompanied by his parent or guardian." Id. at §313.040.
The state has legalized video poker and keno machines. Montana also has card clubs and allows calcutta betting on sports events. Indian tribes are operating casinos. The State Legislature has imposed a blanket minimum age of 18 for anyone involved with gambling, Montana Code §23-5-158, with one exception: children may buy and sell raffle tickets. Id. at 23-5-158(3).
Lottery: Tickets may not be sold to or by anyone under 18. Montana Code §§23-7-110 and 23-7-301.
Parimutuel betting: Licensees may not permitting a minor to use the parimutuel system. §23-4-301.
Casinos and slots: An operator shall not purposely or knowingly allow a person under 18 years of age to participate in a gambling activity. This allows an operator to claim it did not know that patron was underage. A little stranger is the statute, similar to Missouri’s, prohibiting persons under 18 from "purposely or knowingly" participating in a gambling activity. It is difficult to imagine how a minor could prove he or she placed a wager not on purpose or unknowingly. The Video Gaming Machine Control Law requires operators to place gaming devices in such a way as to prevent access by persons under 18. Id. at §23-5-603. It appears that the state’s many tribal casinos also put 18 as the minimum age limit.
Charity bingo and pull-tabs: Montana allows commercial bingo, making it tough for a charity game to survive. The statewide minimum of 18 applies, although the only specific statute is one defining a "bingo caller" as a person 18 years of age or older. Id. at §23-5-112. Pull-tabs are prohibited by statute. The state explicitly allow minors to sell and buy raffle tickets for charitable purposes. Id. at 23-5-158(3). The State Legislature apparently faced problems with Little Leaguers selling raffle tickets to their friends, so it just made the whole thing legal. Raffles are also the only form of gambling in the state where players can use a check rather than cash.
See also Department of Justice, Gambling Control Division: www.doj.state.mt.us/gcd for detailed information on laws and regulations.
Nebraska has a state lottery, but also allows cities and counties to run local government lotteries. It is also unique in allowing privately owned for-profit keno games. The lottery law contains a strange age distinction.
Lottery: Villages, cities, and counties can operate lotteries in Nebraska; the minimum age to buy a ticket is 19. However, for charity lotteries and raffles, the minimum age to buy a ticket is 18. Compare Nebraska Revised Statutes §§9-646, 9-810 and 9-814 with §§9-345, 9-430, and 9-426. It is a minor misdemeanor for anyone under 19 to knowingly buy a governmental lottery ticket and a more serious misdemeanor to knowingly sell one. The addition of the word "knowingly" for the buyer makes little sense, unless it is to cover the rare case of someone over 18 but under 19, who buys a local government lottery ticket thinking he or she was buying a charity lottery tickets. While most states either allow adults to buy lottery tickets as gifts or are silent on the issue, Nebraska explicitly prohibits anyone from buying a ticket for the benefit of a person under 19.
Parimutuel betting: Knowingly aiding or abetting any minor to make a parimutuel wager is a misdemeanor. Id. at §2-1207.
Bingo and pull-tabs: The minimum age is 18; lotteries are allowed to sell "pickle cards," i.e., pull-tabs. The state also allows keno, which has become a big business.
Lottery: The Nevada Constitution still prohibits all lotteries except charity raffles. The enabling statute does not mention a minimum age for buying a raffle ticket. The age limit of 21 for casinos probably applies.
Parimutuel betting: Almost complete prohibition for everyone under 21. Notice the statutory prohibition on "loitering" or allowing minors to pass through casinos. Also note that the minor is not allowed to collect; nothing is said to prevent casinos from keeping children’s money, win or lose.
A person under the age of 21 years shall not:
Play, be allowed to play, place wagers at, or collect winnings from, whether personally or through an agent, any gambling game, slot machine, race book, sports pool or parimutuel operator.
Loiter, or be permitted to loiter, in or about any room or premises wherein any licensed game, race book, sports pool or parimutuel wagering is operated or conducted.
Be employed as a gaming employee except in a counting room. Any licensee, employee, dealer or other person who violates or permits the violation of any of the provisions of this section and any person, under 21 years of age, who violates any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Nevada Revised Statute §463.350.
Casinos: See Parimutuel betting, above. There are many additional specific restrictions, all set at age 21. Nevada Revised Statute §129.130 prohibits gaming or employment in gaming of a person under 21. Section 205.460 makes it unlawful to allow a person under 21 to enter a gambling establishment or engage in gambling in a gambling establishment. Section 609.210 specifies that "every person who employs, or causes to be employed, exhibits or has in his custody for exhibition or employment, any minor, and every parent, relative, guardian, employer or other person having the care, custody, or control of any minor, who in any way procures or consents to the employment of the minor, in any area of a casino where there is gaming or where the sale of alcoholic beverages is the primary commercial activity unless the minor is in the casino area to provide entertainment pursuant to an employment contract, is guilty of a misdemeanor."
Lottery: Tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18; however, gifts by adults are allowed. New Hampshire Revised Statute §287-F:8.
Parimutuel betting: Limited to bettors 21 and over. Id. at §284:33.
Bingo and pull-tabs: State law prohibits anyone under 18 to be admitted to or play bingo games. Id. at §§287-E:7, 287-E:10, and 287-E:12.
Mostly as the result of historic accidents, New Jersey has chosen a different standard for each type of gambling permitted by law: for parimutuel wagering the excluded class is "minors;" for bingo it is anyone under age 18, with no exceptions; for the State Lottery it is also anyone under 18 years of age, but tickets may be received by children as gifts; for casinos the barrier is set at the drinking age (21).
Lottery: Tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18; gifts by adults are allowed. Minimum age for lottery agents is 21. New Jersey Revised Statutes §§5:9-15 and 5:9-7.
Parimutuel betting: Strict restrictions on minors, which is currently legally defined as age18. Id. at §5:5-65.
Casinos: Atlantic City casinos must exclude anyone not old enough to drink alcoholic beverages, currently 21. Id. at §5:12-119. The state allows a casino to claim it did not know the minor was under 21 only when the casino is charged with a criminal offense. Strict liability is imposed for all non-criminal procedures, including administrative fines.
Bingo: Prohibited to anyone under 18. Id. at §5:8-32.
The governor signed compacts to allow tribes in the state to operate full casinos, but the State Supreme Court ruled them all unconstitutional. The Legislature solved the problem, in part, by approving a model compact, with a high tax rate. The legislation was probably illegal, because federal law prohibits the states from demanding tax revenue from tribes during compact negotiations. The Governor, Legislature and tribes are working out the problem, by negotiating a lower rate. As part of the legislative deal-making, the Legislature and Governor agreed to let racetracks and fraternal organizations also have slot machines. The state is unique in allowing betting on bicycle races.
Lottery: Tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18, but gifts by adults are permitted. Lottery retailers must be at least 18. New Mexico Statutes §§6-24-14, 6-24-15, and 6-24-32.
Parimutuel betting: Betting on bicycle races is limited to age 21. The horseracing statutes do not give a minimum age for placing a bet.
Casinos: Although the original compacts, signed in February 1995, contained no minimum gaming age, tribes that have agree to the current compacts prohibit patrons under 21. Political pressure from non-Indians forced the Legislature to include a requirement that tribal gaming agencies, which regulate tribal casinos, enact regulations "prohibiting participation in any Class III gaming by any person under the age of twenty-one (21)." Id. at §11-13-1.
Bingo and pull-tabs: The State Legislature has decreed that minors may not participate in "recreational bingo" offered by senior citizen groups; although, there is no similar statutory age limit on any other form of bingo. Compare New Mexico Statutes §30-19-7.2 with the New Mexico Bingo and Raffle Act, id. at §§60-2B-1 to 60-2B-14.
New York has signed a compact with the Oneida Tribe, resulting in an Indian casino which is supposed to be without slot machines. Turning Stone was probably the most profitable table-games-only casino in the world; it now has installed hundreds of gaming devices. New York was one of the first states to allow its off-track betting operators to take telephone wagers from gamblers in other states, in possible violation of federal law.
Lottery: Tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18; however, adults may buy tickets for the purpose of making a gift to a minor. The New York courts upheld the right of underage recipients to collect if their ticket wins. New York Tax Law §1610, Pando v. Fernandez 485 N.Y.S.2d 162, 127 Misc.2d 224 (1984), affirming that the minor’s age is no bar but reversing on other grounds, 499 N.Y.S.2d 950, 118 A.D.2d 474 (1986).
Parimutuel betting: Tracks and off-track betting operations are required to prevent betting by anyone who is actually and apparently under 18 years of age. This gives racing operators the excuse that the minor looked to be over 18. New York Racing and Parimutuel Law §104.
Casinos: New York has signed compacts with at least one tribe and allows charities to run casino nights.
Bingo and pull-tabs: New York General Municipal Law §486 prevents anyone under 18 from participating in as well as conducting bingo games.
Lottery: "No ticket or share shall be given as a gift or otherwise to any person under the age of eighteen years. Any person who knowingly gives a lottery ticket or share to any person under the age of eighteen years is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor." North Carolina General Statutes §58.1-4016.
Casinos: In late 1999, the State and Cherokee Tribe renegotiated their 1994 compact. Beginning January 1, 2001, the minimum age is raised from 18 to 21. The new compact will also allow the Tribe to enlarge its video gaming casino and raise the limit on its jackpots. The Associated Press reported that "Tribal leaders said they suggested that the gambling age be raised because they were worried that students from nearby Western Carolina University in Cullowhee could become reckless with their college money and lose it at the casino," despite the fact the University reported "they haven’t had many problems with students losing large amounts of money at the casino." "Age Limit to be Raised at Cherokee Casino, NC News,www.journalnow.com/news/local/local/northcarolina/casino24.htm (Dec. 29, 2000).
Bingo: State bingo statutes do not specify a minimum age for players.
Lottery: North Dakota is one of only three states this century where voters refused to authorize a state lottery, in part because the state already has so many other forms of gambling, including charity casinos.
Parimutuel betting: North Dakota allows a primitive form of parimutuel betting, called Calcutta pools, on all sporting events other than high school contests-age limit 18. North Dakota Century Code §53-06.1-07.3. North Dakota is apparently the only state to put a higher limit on parimutuel wagering at OTBs than at the track. According to the state’s racing commissioners, the minimum age for wagers made at an off-track betting outlet is 21; the exact same wager may be made at the track by anyone over 18. Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc., Pari-Mutuel Racing: 1996 at 59.
Casinos: North Dakota Century Code §53-06.1-07.1 prevents any person under 21 from directly or indirectly playing games of pull-tabs, punchboards, twenty-one, calcuttas, sports pools, paddlewheels, or poker. Medium-limit blackjack ($25) for charity is common throughout the state. Tribes operate full-scale casinos under compacts.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Although pull-tabs are restricted to players over 21, bingo is limited to players over 18 unless accompanied by an adult. Id. at §53-06.1-07.1.
Lottery: Ohio Revised Code §3770.08 prohibits the sale of a lottery ticket or chance to a person under 18 years of age.
Parimutuel betting: Any minor sixteen years of age or under shall not be admitted to the grandstand, club house or similar areas of any race track at which wagering is permitted unless accompanied by an adult member of his/her family. This provision shall not apply to state, county or independent fairs. No person under the age of eighteen years shall be permitted to wager at any horseracing meeting. Ohio Administrative Code §§3769-4-07, 3769-14-06.
Bingo: A wonderful minimum age: Participants and operators in bingo games conducted by multipurpose senior centers must be at least 60 years old. Employees at other bingo halls must be over 18. Ohio Revised Codes §§173.121 and 2915.09.
Lottery: A proposal for a state lottery failed at the polls.
Parimutuel betting: Oklahoma Statute tit. 3A, §208.4 prevents any organization licensee from knowingly permitting any minor to be a patron of the parimutuel system of wagering conducted by the organization licensee.
Casinos: The state is in a heated dispute with tribes over their right to operate casinos. Age limits unknown.
Bingo: The state has no mention of bingo in its statutes.
The State Lottery operates video poker machines and takes bets on sports events. Tribes in the state are operating full-scale casinos pursuant to compacts.
Lottery: The state has a strict scheme for dealing with minors. Lottery tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18. If someone under 18 wins the lottery, they may not be paid the prize. This effectively eliminates adults buying tickets as gifts. Oregon Revised Statutes §§461.250, 461.300 and 461.600.
Parimutuel betting: If a track has a reasonable doubt that a patron is over 18, it must require the bettor to make a written statement of age and furnish evidence of his true age and identity. The state statutes prevent any person under 18 from entering a racecourse except when accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older who is the person’s parent, guardian, or spouse, or when in the performance of a duty incident to employment. It further prohibits any person under 12 from entering after 6 P.M. This statute also prohibits any person under 18 from loitering in the wagering area of a racecourse. Id. at §§462.190 and 462.195.
Casinos and slots: Video poker is limited to age 21 and older because the devices are limited to establishments with liquor licenses. However, the first tribal-state casino compact put the minimum age at 18 for video poker machines; all later compacts put the age at 21. Compacts were also signed putting the minimum age at 18 for bingo and blackjack. So the present situation allows one Indian casino to let 18-year-olds gamble at all of its games; the other tribal casinos must restrict machine gambling to age 21, but may allow 18-year-olds to play every other game. The compacts for blackjack are only temporary, and the state will insist that the age for that game be raised to 21. Besides the Indian casinos, the state operates cardrooms for poker and blackjack under a vaguely worded statute allowing "contests of chance." Oregon Revised Statute §163.575 makes it a crime, "endangering the welfare of a minor," to knowingly induce, cause, or permit a person under 18 to participate in gambling.
Lottery: Lottery tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18, but adults may give tickets as gifts to minors. Lottery agents must be over 21. Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes tit. 72, §§3761-6 and 3761-10.
Parimutuel betting: The same restriction (age 18 minimum) phrased in two different ways. For on-track wagers: "No licensed corporation shall permit any person who is actually and apparently under 18 years of age to wager at a race meeting conducted by it." Id. at tit. 4, §325.228. For off-track betting: "No licensed corporation may permit a person who is 17 years of age or younger to wager at a nonprimary location." Id. at tit. 58, §189.71; 58 Pennsylvania Administrative Code § 171.71. Similarly worded restrictions are placed on the rights of 17- and 18-year-olds to be attend the locations.
Casinos: Charities can operate casinos under Pennsylvania’s "Small Games of Chance Act"; minimum age limit is 18. Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute tit. 10, §320.
Bingo: Persons under 18 are not permitted to play bingo unless accompanied by an adult. Id. at tit. 10, §305.
Puerto Rico allows betting on cockfights and various other forms of gambling, including full-scale casinos. Until recently, casino slot machines were owned and operated by the Commonwealth government itself.
Lottery: Sales are prohibited to persons under 18. Puerto Rico Laws tit. 15, §§809 and 814.
Parimutuel betting: No age limit is mentioned in the statute. The state’s racing commissioners report the minimum age as being 18. Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc., Pari-Mutuel Racing: 1996 at 59.
Casinos: "No gambling room shall be permitted to advertise or otherwise offer their facilities to the public of Puerto Rico; or to admit persons under 18 years of age." Puerto Rico Law tit. 15 §77. Despite the obvious infringement on free speech, this statute was declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Posadas de Puerto Rico Assoc. v. Tourism Co., 478 U.S. 328 (1986); repudiated in part in Greater New Orleans v. United States, 527 U.S. 173 (1999).
Bingo: Puerto Rico Law tit. 15, §71 equates bingo with other gambling games such as roulette, dice, and cards, thus bingo would be governed under §77’s 18-year-old age limit.
The Rhode Island State Lottery operates video lottery terminals at racetracks.
Lottery: "No person under the age of eighteen (18) years may play a video lottery game authorized by this chapter, nor shall any licensed video lottery retailer knowingly permit a minor to play a video lottery machine or knowingly pay a minor with respect to a video lottery credit slip. Violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars ($500)." Lottery tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18, but adults may give tickets as gifts to minors. Lottery agents must be over 21. General Laws of Rhode Island §§42-61.2-5, 11-19-32 and 42-61-9.
Parimutuel betting: Licensees may not admit anyone under 18 into a building where parimutuel betting or simulcasting is taking place, nor may they knowingly permit any minor to be a patron of the parimutuel system or any other betting system. Id. at §§41-4-2 and 41-11-4.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Anyone under 18 is not permitted to play. Id. at §11-19-32.
Lottery: The state’s voters approved a state lottery in November 2000, although the Legislature did not pass the enabling law, the South Carolina Education Lottery Act, until September 2001. The Act makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly sell a ticket to a person under 18. Minors may receive tickets as gifts; but minor who purchase tickets are committing misdemeanors and will not be paid if they win.
Casinos and slot machines: Until the middle of the year 2000, South Carolina had tens of thousands of video gaming machines, with a minimum age limit of 21. The state legalized and then prohibited video gaming machines, with offbeat restrictions, through a series of strange statutes and court decisions. In July 1999 the State Legislature passed Act No. 125, which eliminated video gaming devices effective July 1, 2000, unless voters approved letting the machines remain. But on October 14, 1999 the State Supreme Court ruled the Legislature could not delegate any power to the state’s voter, so there would be no election; yet, the Court upheld the repeal of the Video Games Machine Act. Joytime Distributors and Amusement Co. v. State, 1999 WL 969280. So, the latest last word from the State Supreme Court was that the Legislature’s attempt to have voters decide whether they wanted to have slot machines violated the State Constitution, because South Carolina does not allow initiatives or referenda. But the Court found that part of the same bill passed by the Legislature was valid, the part that said the gaming devices could not continue without a vote of the people (which, of course, the Court would not allow). So slot machines are out, for the moment.
Bingo: It appears that all South Carolina bingo legislation was repealed.
South Dakota was one of the first states to allow its State Lottery to set up video lottery terminals, slot machines without coin drops. The state also allows full-scale, low-stake casinos in Deadwood and on Indian land.
Lottery: Lottery tickets may not be sold to anyone under 18. However, to play a video lottery terminal, a gambler must be at least 21. South Dakota Codified Laws §§42-7A-13, 42-7A-32, 42-7A-44 and 42-7A-48.
Parimutuel betting: South Dakota Codified Laws §42-7-76 prohibits a racetrack licensee from permitting any individual under the age of 18 to place a bet on a race.
Casinos and slots: Participation in casino games is limited to gamblers 21 and older. Id. at §§42-7B-35, 42-7B-4, and 42-7B-25. VLTs are limited to patrons over 21.
Bingo: Charity bingo is legal; but, there is no mention in the statutes of an age limit. See, id. at §22-25-25.
Parimutuel betting: Tennessee legalized parimutuel wagering on horse races. However, the statute had a sunset provision, causing it to expire by its own terms when no track was opened in time. If betting on races would have remained legal, the age limit would have been 18. Tennessee Code §4-36-310 states in its entirety: "No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall be permitted to wager at any race meeting."
The State Legislature has enacted some unique laws to deal with underage gambling.
(a) A sales agent or an employee of a sales agent commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly sells or offers to sell a ticket to an individual that the person knows is younger than 18 years of age.
(b) A person 18 years of age or older may purchase a ticket to give as a gift to another person, including an individual younger than 18 years of age.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
Texas Government Code §466.3051.
Parimutuel betting: The Texas Legislature wanted to impose different minimum ages for betting as opposed to merely attending races. Rather than merely stating what those ages are, the Legislature, probably for political reasons, decided to create two sets of underage individuals: Children and Minors. The Texas Racing Act defines "Child" as "a person younger than 16 years of age," while "Minor means a person younger than 21 years of age." Texas Civil Statutes art. 179e, §1.03(68) and (69). The Legislature then required the state’s racing commission to adopt rules to prohibit wagering by a Minor and to prohibit a Child from entering the viewing section of a racetrack unless accompanied by the Child's parent or guardian." Id. at §11.06. The law cleanly lays out how the penalty increases for a willful violation of the law as opposed to a merely negligent act, and which party has the burden of proof :
(a) A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence permits, facilitates, or allows:
(1) wagering by a minor at a racetrack facility; or
(2) entry by a child to the viewing section of a racetrack facility.
(b) An offense under Subsection (a) of this section is a Class B misdemeanor.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person is a minor and intentionally or knowingly engages in wagering at a racetrack.
(d) An offense under Subsection (c) of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
(e) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an offense under Subsection (a)(2) that a child was accompanied by and was in the physical presence of a parent, guardian, or spouse who was 21 years of age or older.
(f) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an offense under Subsection (a) of this section that the minor falsely represented the minor's age by displaying to the person an apparently valid Texas driver's license or identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety that contains a physical description consistent with the minor's appearance.
Id. at §14.13.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Individuals under 18 may not play bingo, unless accompanied "by his parent or guardian." However, bingo operators are free to set their own limits, to keep out younger players or parents with very young children: "a licensee may prohibit all persons under the age of 18 or an age younger than 18 years of age as determined by the licensee from entering the licensed premises by posting a written notice to that effect at the place where the game is conducted." Texas Civil Code tit. 6, art. 179d, §17.
Utah, Tennessee and Hawaii are the only states prohibiting all forms of commercial gambling. Utah does not even allow social bets.
Lottery: Vermont limits its State Lottery to persons who have "attained the age of majority," currently 18. However, minors may receive lottery tickets as gifts. Vermont Statutes tit. 13, §2143 and tit. 31, §§654 and 661.
Parimutuel betting: Vermont Statutes tit. 31, §613 prohibits a minor from participating in any parimutuel pools or even to be admitted to any parimutuel enclosure.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Like the lottery, these games are limited to age of majority. The statute focuses on workers rather than patrons: "A nonprofit organization shall not permit any person who has not attained the age of majority to organize or execute a game of chance. A person who has not reached the age of majority may work performing services at a game of chance which are not related to the execution of the game of chance. Id. at tit.13, §2143.
The Virgin Islands is the most recent American jurisdiction to legalize casinos. Land-based casinos are limited to St. Croix. Casinos onboard cruise ships may remain open, but only in St. Thomas and only if the ship remains docked beyond 6 p.m.
Lottery: Virgin Islands Statutes, tit. 32 §254 prohibits sales to anyone under the age of 18. This does not prohibit gifts by adults to minors.
Casino: The "Virgin Islands Casino and Resort Control Act of 1995": "No person under the age of twenty-one (21) years of age shall be admitted into, nor be permitted to place any wager in any casino hotel licensed to operate in St. Croix." Virgin Island Statutes, tit. 32, §453.
Lottery: Code of Virginia §58.1-4015 states: "No ticket shall be sold to or redeemed from any person under the age of 18 years. Any licensee who knowingly sells or offers to sell or redeem a lottery ticket or shares to or from any person under the age of 18 years is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor."
Parimutuel betting: Code of Virginia §59.1-403 prevents any person under 18 from wagering on or conducting any wagering on the outcome of a horse race.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Instant bingo is limited to players 18 and over. Id. at §18.2-340.5. The Charitable Gaming Commission has promulgated detailed regulations covering minors and bingo:
Individuals under 18 years of age may play bingo provided such persons are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. It shall be the responsibility of the organization to ensure that such individuals are eligible to play. An organization's house rules may limit the play of bingo by minors.
Individuals under the age of 18 may sell raffle tickets for a qualified organization raising funds for activities in which they are active participants.
No individual under the age of 11 may participate in the management, operation or conduct of bingo games. Individuals 11 through 17 years of age may participate in the conduct or operation of a bingo game provided the organization permitted for charitable gaming obtains and keeps on file written parental consent from the parent or legal guardian and verifies the date of birth of such youth. An organization's house rules may limit the involvement of minors in the operation or conduct of bingo games.
Virginia Admin. Code, tit. 11, §15-22-40.
The state has entered into compacts allowing tribes to open casinos with gaming terminals that are technically video lottery terminals and electronic bingo games, but play like slot machines. The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act grandfathered-in one tribe’s true slot machines,
Lottery: Revised Code of Washington §67.70.120 prohibits sales to anyone under 18. This does not prohibit gifts by adults to minors.
Casinos and slots: Besides Indian casinos, Washington allows cardrooms, where poker and casino-style banked blackjack are played. Revised Code of Washington §9.46.0305 prevents minors from wagering.
Bingo and pull-tabs: The state Gaming Commission has issued rules prohibiting anyone under 18 from making wagers, with exceptions for bingo, such as children can play bingo "at agricultural fairs or school carnivals" and "in licensed bingo games if accompanied by an adult member of his/her immediate family or guardian¼" Washington Administrative Code §230-12-027. The regulation has the unique provision: "All bingo advertisements that are directed to minors shall include language indicating that all minors must be accompanied by a member of their immediate family or guardian, who is at least 18 years old."
The West Virginia State Lottery operates video lottery terminals in racetracks.
Lottery: West Virginia Code §29-22-11 prohibits sales to anyone under the age of 18. This does not prohibit gifts by adults to minors.
Parimutuel betting: The state’s racing commissioners report the minimum age as being 18. Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc., Pari-Mutuel Racing: 1996 at 59.
Bingo: Bingo operators are prohibited from allowing anyone under 18 to participate in the playing of any bingo game with knowledge or reason to believe that the individual is under the age of 18. However, an individual 18 may attend the playing of a bingo game when accompanied by and under the supervision of an adult relative or a legal guardian. West Virginia Code §47-20-4.
Casinos and slots: VLTs are at racetracks. The West Virginia Racetrack Video Lottery Act, West Virginia Code §§29-22A-1 et seq., says that the State Lottery Act, West Virginia Code §§29-22-1 et seq., shall apply unless the two conflict. Because the Racetrack Video Lottery Act is silent as to an age limit for wagering, the minimum age of 18 set by the Lottery Act applies. The Limited Gaming Facility Act, which would allow registered guests to gamble at casinos in "historic resort hotels" if county voters approve, sets the minimum age at 21. W.Va. Code section 29-25-1 et seq. The only local election held so far, in Greenbrier County, failed in November, 2000.
Lottery: Wisconsin has a comprehensive statutory scheme for handling minors and lottery tickets. Like many other states, the minimum age is 18, although minors may receive tickets as gifts. Wisconsin is one of the few states to specifically go after a minor’s adult agent: The state makes it a crime to sell a lottery ticket not only to a minor but to an adult who is buying on behalf of the minor and not as a gift. Wisconsin Statutes §§565.17, 565.30, 565.12, and 565.10.
Parimutuel betting: Wisconsin Statute §444.09 prevents any person under 18 "to be admitted to a racetrack, unless accompanied by a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, guardian or spouse who is at least 18 years of age, or unless accompanied by another person at least 18 with the written permission of the minor’s parent or guardian." Even at the track individuals under 18 may not make a wager or receive any payout on a wager, and no licensee may knowingly accept a wager or pay out winnings to anyone under 18. No one under 16 may work in any parimutuel wagering activity.
Casinos: The state entered into compacts allowing tribes to open full-scale, high-stake casinos -- with expirations dates beginning in 1998. When the compacts came up for renewal, the state asked for more money and insisted that the age limit be raised from 18 to 21; 13 of the state’s 15 tribes agreed. Two tribes renewed before the state made its demand, so their compacts have no minimum age for gambling, though the tribal casinos require players to be at least 21 anyway because they serve alcoholic beverages.
Bingo and pull-tabs: Persons under 18 may not play bingo unless accompanied by their parent, guardian, or spouse. Wisconsin Statute §563.51.
The state allows limited sports betting.
Parimutuel betting: Wyoming Statute §11-25-109 states: "No person under the age of eighteen (18) years shall place or be allowed to place a bet."
Bingo: Charity bingo is legal. The statutes do not set a minimum age, but the 18 year age limit for parimutuel betting probably applies.
ENDNOTE: The author would like to thank his research assistants, Adam Thomas, John Lewis, Kimberly Phillips, Ranjit Indran, Michael Shelton-Frates and James B. Lewis, for their help with this project.
I. NELSON ROSE
Professor I. Nelson Rose is an internationally known public speaker, writer and scholar and is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on gambling law. A 1979 graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a tenured full Professor at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California, where he teaches one of the first law school classes on gaming law.
Professor Rose is the author of more than 300 books, articles, book chapters and columns. He is best known for his internationally syndicated column, "Gambling and the Law®," and his landmark 1986 book by the same name. His most recent book is a collection of columns and analysis, co-authored with Bob Loeb, on Blackjack and the Law.
A consultant to governments and industry, Professor Rose has testified as an expert witness and acted as an advisor to major law firms, international corporations, licensed casinos, players, Indian tribes, and local, state and national governments, including Arizona, California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and the federal governments of Canada and the United States.
With the rising interest in gambling throughout the world, Professor Rose has spoken before such diverse groups as the National Conference of State Legislatures, Congress of State Lotteries of Europe, United States Conference of Mayors, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has presented scholarly papers on gambling in Nevada, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, England, Australia, Portugal, Argentina and the Czech Republic.