Minimum Age Issue Debated

Published Monday, February 23, 2009 -

On gambling law Professor I Nelson Rose from the Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California, U.S.A. says he is asked at least every second week, "What is the minimum age to gamble on the internet?" He goes on to state that even agents of government and law enforcement, including police, prosecutors and regulators are asking the same question. The question usually comes from students already playing and wagering online but are unsure about the law when it comes to claiming their winnings.

The difinitive answer to the question of the legal age to gamble online seems to be a very fuzzy one. Lawmakers have not really thought much about gambling online and therefore have not really thought about a minimum age. Of course there are some guidelines, mostly the responsibility is placed on the operators of the web sites.

Countries that license online gambling require gamblers to be 18 or 21 years old. Some jurisdictions say that it is up to the operator to set the age limits.

Operators say they cannot keep track of the age of online gambling participants in the huge global market. The minimum age is whatever the law says it is wherever the player is located, operators contend. These online operators put into their terms and conditions that it is the responsibility of the player to check whether it is legal to wager funds online. By most counts, even in Tribal Casinos the age requirement is 21 years old to gamble with money. The online gambling world is a difficult one regulate at the best of times. Lawyers find it tough to say where local law stands on the minimum age issue.

In California, USA, for example, the law makes it a crime to allow anyone under 18 to "play at a game of chance," Charities under a new law in California are allowed to to run poker tournaments, with the minimum age set at 21. It is not probable that these laws apply to offshore operators. All those young people playing poker online have a better chance of winning the jackpot than getting pinched for playing in the first place.

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