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Minimum U.S. Gambling Age Debate

The issue of a minimum age for gambling varies greatly from place to place, especially within the United States. Until 1960, the law viewed 21 as the minimum age for most issues, including gambling. But with the onset of the Vietnam War, and soldiers as young as 18 dying for their country, the move to lower the voting age to 18 was put in place. For practical reasons, the move to lower the minimum age for other issues was also changed to 18. The wave of legal gambling occurred in this period of the 1970s and the minimum age of for gambling was also set as 18.

While most minimum age limits are still 18, in every American state, the drinking age limit is 21. Because drinking is associated with casino gambling, most states have put the age limit of gambling in a casino at 21. The authorities say that casino games, especially slot machines games, are most addictive and should be limited to over 21s only. Gambling at a casino where drinks flow freely are not considered appropriate places of entertainment for under-21s.

The trend in European countries, surprisingly, is the opposite. In the past decades, many countries have lowered the minimum gambling age to 18. Portugal has an interesting law: Tourists from age 18 may enter casinos and gambling resorts, but locals must be at least 21. Countries outside the United States have internal consistency with one age limit applying throughout; it is only in America that the law may change from state to state.

OCA News Editor