Legal Age for Gambling: What Is the Law in the US and Europe?
What is the Legal Age for Gambling?
In most countries, the legal gambling age is 18. The gambling age is the minimum age to gamble legally in a particular jurisdiction. In some countries, gambling is illegal at any age, while age restrictions depend on gambling type in other countries.
Examples of countries open to gambling are the UK, Germany, and Spain. These are the largest markets in Europe, where it is legal for players to gamble online or in traditional casinos.
Examples of less permissive countries to gambling are Russia and the Czech Republic, which have banned gambling entirely so that no casinos can operate legally. However, some operators run online gambling websites even in this restrictive environment.
In general, all gambling providers, whether in-person or online, must have an age verification system to comply with the regulations of their respective countries.
In this article:
- Legal Age for Gambling in the US
- Gambling in the UK: Legal Age and Regulations
- Gambling in Europe: Legal Age and Regulations
- Legal Age Verification with BlueCheck
Legal Age for Gambling in the US
In the US, an individual must be above the legal age to participate in gambling or even read the information above gambling-related information.
The legal gambling age differs between US states:
- In 22 US states, individuals must be over 18 to gamble.
- In 35 US states, the legal gambling age is 21.
- Some US states completely ban gambling.
- Native American casinos are sovereign and can determine the legal age they allow gambling.
Note that there may be different restrictions for different types of gambling in some US states. For example, in Alabama, the legal age for casinos is 21, but only 18 for horse betting.
Another consideration is the difference between physical vs. online gambling legal age. There are different restrictions for physical casinos and online gambling sites in many US states.
Gambling in the UK: Legal Age and Regulations
The UK Gambling Act 2005 regulates all gambling in the UK. It was amended in 2014 to include all gambling companies that provide services to UK clients, regardless of their location.
The legal gambling age in the UK is 18 for most types of gambling. The law applies to gambling shops, bingo halls, casinos, and racetracks. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to play casino games, place bets, enter licensed gambling establishments, or place bets on online casino websites or applications.
There are a few exceptions that do not have an age limit in the UK:
- Gambling machines such as coin pushers, crane grabs, and slot machines with a top prize of £5.
- Participate in prize gaming at family amusement parks of traveling fairs.
- Private betting and gaming.
Change to legal requirements from May 2021
On May 7, 2021, the Gambling Commission changed the License Terms and Code of Conduct (LCCP), requiring online gambling operators to verify a customer's birthday before:
- Depositing money into an account
- Granting access to free-to-play games
- Enabling players to gamble with their own money or using free bonuses
These terms apply to all types of online gambling sites in the UK. However, the most significant impact of the new LCCP is the rules for free games—even if a gaming institution or online gaming site does not require real money wagers, children are still not allowed to participate.
Related content: Read our guide to age verification online
Gambling in Europe: Legal Age and Regulations
In the EU, gambling laws are uniform between countries because of close cooperation between most European countries. The legal gambling age in all 43 countries of the EU is 18. One exception is Greece, which requires a minimum age of 23.
Changes to legal requirements from 2021
The following significant changes were implemented to European legislation in 2021:
- Germany requires online gaming and gambling operators to ensure that the necessary measures and restrictions are in place to prevent underage users from accessing the platform, requiring gambling operators to know your customer (KYC) standards. The Commission enforces this requirement for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM).
- France has a new gambling regulator called the l'Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ), replacing the previous authority, ARJEL. ANJ acts as a single body overseeing all forms of gambling, including online gambling, casinos, horse racing, betting,a and lotteries. Gambling operators in France must closely follow new requirements issued by ANJ.
Legal Age Verification with BlueCheck
BlueCheck's industry-leading identity verification infrastructure enables merchants to grow their business faster. Serving a wide variety of industries, our solutions are custom-tailored to the unique needs of our customers, including PACT Act and eCommerce compliant offerings.
Schedule a call today with a BlueCheck specialist to learn more about our Age & ID Verification solutions.