18 is the special age when you can vote, play the lottery, join the military, buy tobacco products, and work full time in the US. It’s not, however, an age that’s commonly associated with legal gambling.
This is especially true regarding slot machines and other casino games. The majority of states require slots players to be 21 or older.
That said, you may wonder if it’s even legal for somebody to play slots at 18. I’ll discuss this matter below by while also explaining how the situation varies based on the state.
Yes, You Can Play Slots at 18…But Only in Certain States
To answer the original question of this post, yes, you can play slots at 18. However, everything depends upon the state where you’re living or visiting.
I’m going to discuss more on individual states and their gambling laws next. Generally speaking, though, 18-year-olds can enjoy slot machines in certain jurisdictions.
Which States Let You Play Slot Machines at 18?
Nearly a dozen states allow 18-year-olds to play slots at the time of this writing. The big drivers behind these states allowing such young gamblers are either tribal casinos or cruise ships.
California’s casino industry is dominated by tribal establishments. The tribes each have the ability to set their own minimum age.
Tribal casinos that don’t serve alcohol typically accept 18-year-old players. Casinos that do provide drinks, meanwhile, stick with the 21+ standard.
The Peach State is largely void of gambling opportunities. It does, however, have one cruise ship that features slot machines and other casino games.
The Emerald Princess accepts players aged 18 and up. Gamblers can begin enjoying casino games once the ship hits international waters, which is 3 miles offshore.
Known for potatoes and Boise State football, Idaho isn’t typically viewed as a gambling location.
Nevertheless, it does feature tribal casinos. These casinos offer slots-like machines to gamblers aged 18 and above.
The Wolverine State has a setup similar to California and a few other states on this list.
Michigan also has three commercial casinos in Detroit. These venues serve alcohol and impose a 21+ minimum age.
Minnesota may not come off as a major casino state. However, it actually has 19 tribal casinos. These establishments accept players as young as 18.
The Big Sky State has a whopping 290+ gaming venues throughout its lands. These establishments include a mixture of tribal casinos, charity gaming joints, bars, and restaurants. The minimum age to play slot machines is 18 across the board.
These slots fall into the Class II category, meaning they use bingo games to generate results. Regardless, you shouldn’t notice much of a difference between these games and Vegas-style slots (Class III).
The New York gambling scene has featured tribal casinos for decades. It has added commercial racinos in recent years. The tribal establishments can set their gambling age as low as 18 if desired.
The Beaver State has several tribal gaming venues.
These casinos are able to offer a mixture of Class II and Class III slot machines. They can also take action from gamblers aged 18 and above.
Throughout its history, Rhode Island has typically held a negative view of gaming. However, these attitudes changed in the early 90s, when politicians grew tired of seeing residents rushing to Connecticut’s Foxwoods casino.
South Dakota features commercial casinos in Deadwood along with tribal casinos.
Known for its bloody Wild West history, Deadwood is home to an impressive 45+ gaming venues today. 18-year-olds can enjoy slot machines across the Mount Rushmore State.
The Evergreen State lays claim to over 33,000 slot machines. Tribal casinos don’t need to abide by any set gambling age. They can make the minimum age anywhere from 18-21, depending upon their preference.
Some States that Let 18-Year-Olds Play Have Unique Laws
The states above don’t have uniform rules when it comes to permitting slot players who are 18. Instead, some of them feature really unique laws.
Georgia, for example, only features a single casino cruise. This cruise ship must be in international waters before allowing slots play.
Montana has hundreds of gaming venues that offer slot machines. These slots aren’t the traditional variety, though, because they must operate through bingo games.
Washington has a versatile minimum gambling age. Each tribal casino can set their minimum age at between 18 and 21.
Most States Require Slots Players to Be 21
As mentioned before, many US states require slots players to be 21+. This common minimum age is why many people don’t realize that 18-year-olds can legally play slots. Most states, however, opt for the traditional casino gaming age of 21+.
Speaking of which, staff members watch entrances like a hawk. They’ll ask anybody of questionable age to produce an ID. If said gambler can’t or won’t come up with an ID, then they won’t be permitted on the floor.
Why Do Most States Want Casino Gamblers to Be 21?
Many people think that conservative values are the primary reason behind the minimum gaming age of 21. However, alcohol is a much bigger reason.
21 is the legal drinking age in the US across the board. It’s no coincidence that this number coincides with the typical legal gambling age.
Most casinos don’t want to walk the fine line of allowing 18-year-olds to gamble while also preventing them from drinking. This scenario can be a recipe for disaster because casinos face steep fines when caught accidentally serving minors.
Atlantic City actually ran into this problem during its first few years of casino gaming. It featured a minimum gambling age of 18.
However, Atlantic City casinos had a very difficult time not accidentally serving people under 21. By 1983, both casinos and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement agreed that it was best to raise the gambling age to 21.
Since then, markets have been perfectly content to align the drinking and gambling age. The majority definitely feels that this is the best way to go.
Of course, casinos could stop offering alcohol and knock the gaming age down. Operators seem to agree, though, that it’s more profitable to serve drinks than allow younger gamblers.
Can You Play Online Slots at 18?
The question of whether you can play online slots at 18 years old varies on a case-by-case basis. It also falls into a legal gray area in many situations.
Regulated online casinos, which only serve states with fully legal mobile gaming markets, require slots players to be 21. No exceptions have been made to this trend so far.
However, the vast majority of states still don’t have regulated gaming. One or more jurisdictions could allow 18-year-olds to play mobile slots at some point in the future.
If an offshore casino feels that 18-year-olds may be allowed to play slots in a gray market, then it might accept these younger players.
Our Final Thoughts
Despite the stigma, 18-year-olds are allowed to play slot machines in a fair number of states. California, Georgia, Montana, and Oregon are some of the jurisdictions that allow players this young.
Of course, these states only permit 18-year-olds to gamble in tribal casinos or on cruise ships. These locations limit the options that younger gamblers have.
Alcohol is the big reason why the minimum casino gaming age is 21. Casinos don’t like dealing with the headaches of permitting 18+ players while trying to avoid giving them alcohol.