The Legal Age
In today’s day and age, many governments and legal jurisdictions have established mostly agreed upon age requirements for participating in certain activities, that require the decision making and judgement that you can only get from experience and maturing. These societies, reflecting their cultural norms and practices, have varying activities that they restrict with a legal age limit.
In most societies, gambling is an age restricted activity that is linked to a coming of age, when a teenager steps into adulthood and is understood to be able to make serious decisions and take on greater responsibilities. In the case of gambling, the responsibility is of one’s own finances.
Gambling is often divided into distinct categories; the most common being casinos and sports betting. There are frequently different age restrictions for these distinct gambling categories. For example, in New Zealand, one must be 20 before they can gamble at casinos, but they can wager on horses when they’re 18. There isn’t an age restriction on playing the national NZ lottery!
The Legal Gambling Age Worldwide
So where in the world can you gamble under 18? Where is it illegal to gamble? Well, there’s a fair few oddities and distinct jurisdictions that we’ll take you through, continent by continent. For a comprehensive look at all the legal gambling ages around the world, check out this list.
Across this vast continent, with its many distinct cultures rubbing shoulders with each other, there’s a surprising similarity amongst the various European nation states. For the majority of European nations, one must be 18 years old to make a legal bet, but there are a few exceptions.
In Denmark, there are no restrictions on sports betting. Punters must be 18 for all other forms of gambling, such as in a casino or on a gaming machine in another venue, or online gambling, but can be any age to put a bet on a horse or their favourite football team.
Estonia, on the other hand, has a casino gambling age minimum of 21 years old, higher than the European average, but has a minimum age for all other forms of gambling of 16 years old. It’s not surprising that one of the most digitally advanced societies in the world allows their teenagers to gamble online!
Portugal has some pretty complicated gambling laws. The legal age to gamble at a casino can be 25, but can also be 18, it all depends on the specific casino. There are some casinos that even allow for tourists to gamble at 18, but restrict locals to 25 and older.
In both Andorra and Bosnia & Herzegovina, there is no legal minimum age to gamble, anywhere. Keen young punters from around Europe and the rest of the world can head to these countries and see what they have to offer. While Andorra doesn’t have any casinos yet, this small nation is still worth a visit!
Over in the eastern hemisphere on the Asian continent there are a fair few countries that have outlawed gambling of any kind, making it illegal to wager on a game or event. Here are the countries that travelling bettors would do best to avoid:
For the most part, the rest of the Asian countries follow the same pattern as Europe, in that they allow gambling for those 18 and older, while a handful of others restrict gambling to 21.
North & South America
Most nations in North and South America flit between a legal age for gambling of 18 and 21 years of age – notably, there are no nations without gambling restrictions. This could be perhaps due to the large impact the Catholic church has had on the culture of these societies.
In the infamously complicated collection of states that comprise the USA, the laws and minimum gambling ages vary from state to state, but always between 18 and 21. It’s handy to remember when travelling in the states that what’s legal in one state isn’t legal in another.
Like in Asia, many African nations outlaw gambling, such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, and funnily enough, Tunisia has no legal age, after an unsuccessful attempt to outlaw it across the country!
As much of Africa is in the global south economically and developmentally, many nations have no regulation for the technological side of online gambling, even some of the nations that outlaw all other forms of gambling, such as Ethiopia and Eritrea!
Lastly, at the bottom of the world, the collection of nations that comprise Oceania have largely similar gambling laws, with most of the nations having a legal gambling age of 18. Most notably, a few of the small Pacific Ocean states have outlawed gambling, while gambling in casinos require a minimum age of 20 in New Zealand.
Where Will You Go on Your Next Holiday?
There you have it, a worldwide snapshot of the gambling situation as it stands today. If you’re looking for a holiday gambling destination in the post-COVID world with a low legal age, we’d suggest heading over to the mainland and keeping in local (European). There’s both Estonia and Bosnia & Herzegovina to check out, which offer rich cultural offerings to boot!
Just remember, if you are accessing online casinos, the legal gambling age where you are still applies!
Frequently Asked Questions
As comprehensive as these guides can be, there are oftentimes gaps that we don’t see until our great readers point them out. We’ve compiled the most commonly asked questions we get about the legal age to gamble around the world, and answered them below.
Can you gamble anywhere at 18?
No, there are many countries that have a minimum legal age of 21, and many that outlaw gambling outright. In the USA, there are quite a few states that restrict gambling to 21+, but luckily there are a few that allow gambling from 18. If you are gambling in other countries, you can bet at 18. For example, you can access the best UK online casinos as long as you are 18.
What country has the lowest gambling age?
There are a handful of countries that actually have no gambling restrictions to name of, for various cultural or developmental reasons. Most countries tend to restrict gambling to over 18s or over 21s, like with online casinos in the US.