Every gambling jurisdiction imposes a minimum age on gamblers. This age varies depending upon the type of gambling and jurisdiction.
For example, Las Vegas requires all casino and sports bettors to be 21 years of age or older. Montana, meanwhile, lets 18-year-olds play at its charity casinos.
In either case, you’re not supposed to gamble when under the legal gambling age. You’ll face legal consequences when caught doing so.
But what exactly are these consequences? The following guide discusses what you should know about gambling as a minor and what can happen if you break the law.
First Step: Know the Gambling Laws in Your Jurisdiction
Each jurisdiction, whether it’s a state or country, determines its own gambling laws. Many jurisdictions have different takes on the matter.
Most states and countries with casino gaming only allow players who are 21 years old and above. Some exceptions, though, do exist in this regard.
Michigan, for example, lets 18-year-olds play in any casino that doesn’t serve alcohol. Minnesota is another jurisdiction that allows younger (charity) casino gamblers, with the minimum age also being 18.
Bingo and lotteries tend to allow younger people to gamble. Many state lotteries, for example, let 18-year-olds buy tickets.
As can be seen, gambling laws vary across the board. You should definitely look into your specific jurisdiction’s laws before assuming anything. You can use this guide on US gambling laws, which covers different states.
Casinos Take Underage Gambling Very Seriously
Underage gamblers often try to visit casinos. After all, casinos feature a wealth of gambling opportunities under one roof.
Some minors try to sneak past the security staff. However, security is on high alert to make sure that underage players don’t simply walk in. They’ll stop any young-looking person and immediately ask for their ID.
Those who realize that this method doesn’t work very well may seek a fake ID. In this case, they might pay somebody to make an ID that displays the minimum gambling age for the relevant jurisdiction.
You’re Breaking the Law by Gambling as a Minor
States and countries don’t impose minimum gambling ages for their own entertainment. Instead, they expect everybody to follow these laws.
No matter if you play underage at a casino, poker room, or sportsbook, you’re breaking the law. You’re then subject to anything between the minimum and maximum punishment, depending upon the severity of the case.
Assuming you have parents or of-age friends who are helping you gamble, then they’ll also be at legal risk. Some parents, for example, have been arrested for letting their kids play real money slot machines.
Even Loitering in Casinos as a Minor Is Illegal
Most casinos these days feature large family-friendly resorts. They’re used to having minors on the property. These minors may walk by or even on a gaming floor to visit different parts of the resort.
They might think that it’s okay to stop and watch people play casino games. However, even loitering in a casino as a minor can be illegal.
Las Vegas casinos, for example, don’t let underage gamblers hang around gaming floors. Such loitering only increases the chances that minors could play a slot or video poker machine.
You’ll Get Into More Trouble When Using a Fake ID
As discussed earlier, underage players have little chance of sneaking past casino security. Those who are desperate enough to gamble often seek out a fake ID.
Using a fake ID is subject to an identity theft charge. Anybody who’s caught committing this crime could even do jail time.
You Will Forfeit Any Jackpot Winnings
One reason why some underage gamblers take the risk is because they hope to win big. However, jackpots winner must produce an ID.
Casinos are going to scrutinize identification from a young-looking person more so than anybody else. They may go above and beyond to prove that a jackpot winner is their stated age. A fake ID probably won’t work in this situation.
Plenty of underage gamblers have won big and been denied a jackpot. Aside from missing out on a windfall, they’ve also been arrested after trying to claim jackpot winnings.
Casinos Can Card You
There is no limit on how often casinos can ask for identification. They could approach somebody 20 times over the course of a few hours to request an ID.
The underage gambler might feel like they’re getting away with everything if they pass the first ID check. However, an identification request could only be the first of many.
Everybody from cocktail waitresses to floor managers can ask somebody to produce an ID. With that said, these requests could come from all angles.
You Don’t Have to Show ID in a Casino
Contrary to popular belief, casinos don’t have a legal right to see gamblers’ IDs. They’re not law enforcement officers, which means they can’t force anybody to produce identification.
What casinos can do, though, is throw somebody out who refuses to show an ID. They could then take pictures of the person in an attempt to ban them from the companies associated properties.
I’m not advising anybody to break the law by gambling as an underaged person. However, anybody who gets caught doesn’t technically have to show identification.
They can instead simply leave/get kicked out before the casino calls the cops. This scenario is definitely preferable to getting arrested.
What to Do if You’re Caught Gambling Underage
Anyone who is caught gambling underage will be prosecuted. After all, casinos don’t want to take the chance of the same person coming back.
Gaming establishments have the most to lose if they’re caught letting minors play. They do everything possible to prevent this scenario from happening.
An attorney can get the young gambler’s sentence reduced. Most importantly, they can also help the player avoid jail time—especially when a fake ID is used.
Many Underage Players Resort to Online Gambling
The thought of walking into a casino or sportsbook and trying to gamble as a minor is a nerving. This is the quickest path to getting arrested for underage gambling.
That said, most minors who get the urge to place bets do so online. They don’t have to worry about anybody seeing them at an online casino, poker site, or sportsbook.
However, most gambling sites are strict when it comes to the cashout process. They want to see a form of ID, utility bill, and/or other proof of age.
Anybody who can’t produce these documents won’t be able to withdraw any money. They’ll lose winnings and likely their original deposit.
This fate is preferable to being arrested at a casino, poker room, or sportsbook. It does, however, result in the loss of funds.
I don’t advise gambling online as a minor, even if it seems like the best option for an underage player. Online sites have gotten better and better over the years at making players produce identification.
Our Final Thoughts on Underage Gambling
For underage gamblers, the temptation to play casino games or place sports bets is too great. They can’t help but try gambling somewhere.
However, underage betting is a serious matter. Anybody who gets caught gambling as a minor will be charged. They face even stiffer penalties when using fake identification.
Some people try to get around this matter by wagering at online casinos, poker rooms, and/or sportsbooks. The same gamblers, though, risk losing their deposit money if caught.
If you’re underage and can’t resist sports betting, casino games, or poker, then you should look for free opportunities to play. Many websites and social media networks offer these games. The free versions of casino games can tide you over until you’re old enough to place real money bets.