Gambling, like many other services or products, comes with a set of legal limitations and restrictions on who can participate. The minimum gambling age differs significantly around the world, and depending on which continent or country you are in, it may be completely illegal no matter how old you are. Some countries are open to it and have laws that legalize certain types of gambling activities whereas others have imposed a ban on gambling. Here we will take a detailed look at the state-regulated casino and betting industries throughout the world and compare the relative minimum age to gamble. Considering only safe, and regulated gambling vendors, this is your complete guide to minimum gambling age restrictions across the globe.
Gambling Is Not for Children
Gambling is the act of betting an asset to the result of a given case. Assets can be a lot of different things from properties, company shares, cryptocurrencies, or just regular money. There are several reasons why a child should not be able to participate in this practice, but simply put, a child does not have the expertise or knowledge to weigh financial risks. The act of gambling can be addictive, and a child will be very vulnerable to regular gambling with little concern for losses due to an intrinsic misapprehension of the value of assets. As online gambling has become increasingly available, heavily advertised and easily accessible, the enforcement of preventing children from gambling has never been as crucial as it currently is. In the past, it has been relatively easy for a determined minor to use fake credentials to bypass KYC age verification steps and make deposits to online platforms that do not properly enforce the standards.
Increasingly, this debate is moving away from clearly defined gambling activities such as casinos and sports betting and instead of looking into loot boxes and video-game gambling purchases. These are products marketed at children, and in many cases encourage a form of gambling to receive rewards in the game. So far the law is benefiting game publishers who enjoy huge profits off the back of children spending money within their game.
Comparing Gambling Age in Different Regions Around the World
The different regions throughout the world take very different approaches to the legal position of gambling within society. Certain continents such as Europe have very liberalized gambling laws that allow licensed operators a lot of freedoms and citizens have many options to gamble both in-person and online. Whereas the Middle-East has very strict laws that make gambling illegal. In the following sections, we will take a look at:
- The local age limit on a person engaging in gambling activity.
- Protections in place to ensure the local laws are not violated.
- Differences in the law for residents and foreign tourists visiting the region.
The local government has very strict laws regarding gambling. Canadian based operators must adhere to a tight set of regulations. However, these rules do not apply to overseas operators, and online sportsbooks and casinos are legally available to Canadians. To play at these offshore online casinos in Canada you must be at least 18 years old to gamble.
It is very complex to analyze on a general gambling age basis because local state laws take very different approaches to the legality of gambling and the minimum age of participation. There are states where the gambling age is 18, 21, and completely illegal. For that reason, it is very important to be aware of the difference in the regional divide. One of the most welcoming states for gambling in New Jersey, where you can bet online at locally hosted sportsbooks and enter casinos from the age of 21. But the state next door, New York, requires clients to be just 18 years old to enter a casino unless alcohol is being served.
According to data from the latest studies, South America is the home of almost 420 million people. Taking into consideration the fact that over 300 million of them are aged over 18, South America has the potential to be one of the largest gambling markets in the world. Throughout their history, most states have had strong anti-gambling attitudes, however, since 2006, they have put some serious efforts into introducing laws that legalize and regulate gambling on the continent. As a result, you are currently allowed to enter casinos, play the lottery and bet on sporting events in all 15 countries, as long as you are aged over 18.
Without a doubt, the most liberalized continent on the planet for gambling in Europe. Here you will be able to enjoy casinos, sportsbook betting and much more from 18 years of age. The UK, Germany, and Spain are the largest three gambling markets on the continent.
Throughout the EU the age to gamble is 18, this is an area of contention in several countries though.
Macau & Japan
The biggest markets for gambling in Asia are Macau and Japan. Both of these markets are extremely valuable commodities and have different laws and restrictions when it comes to who is allowed to participate.
This has a booming commercial gambling industry following the recent law amendment allowing the establishment of “Integrated Resorts”. Despite casino gambling being officially illegal, there are many places you can bet on sports in so-called “pachinko’s” from the age of 20.
This is the gambling hub of Asia. The gambling age laws here are somewhat peculiar but typical of the Asian gambling market. If you are a foreigner visiting Macau you must be at least 18 years old, but for local citizens, it is 21.
Residents are almost fully prohibited from any form of gambling, with exceptions being activities that have been specially legislated for. These include horse racing, bicycle racing and a selection of sports betting options. Koreans may also participate in some lotteries too. To add further restrictions, Korean locals are not allowed to break these rules no matter if they are in the country or abroad. The legal gambling age in South Korea is 18 and this covers the great gambling areas of Jeju and Seoul.
If you are 18 or over you will be able to participate in gambling activities in most African countries, where gambling is legal. The only exceptions to this rule are Egypt (18), Namibia (21) and Nigeria (20). Africa is also the home of one of the most peculiar gambling laws in the world. In Malawi kids over the age of 5 are legally allowed to gamble, which is a precedent case an equivalent of which cannot be found anywhere in the world. The reasoning behind it is that after they turn 5, kids should already have an understanding of the concept of money.
Australia is a country well-known for its troublesome history of gambling laws and legislations. Back in 2001, the government passed the Interactive Gaming Act, which made it illegal for any online operator to offer their services to players based in Australia. It took more than 10 years for the parliament to realise that such bans were not only not working, but also hindering the growth and developments of one of the most lucrative industries in the world. There are many such cases, however, one thing that has stayed the same is the legal gambling age, which is 18.
The Middle-East is a very strict anti-gambling territory. With many local laws dictated by Muslim teachings, gambling is outlawed and considered a sin. Despite this, there are several thriving gambling industries in the Middle-East which are available only to foreigners aged 18 or over. Horse racing and certain casino games do exist. In these regions, gambling is seen as a way to extract more money from wealthy tourists visiting, not an activity that they want to encourage within their society.
The gambling age limits in other popular destinations around the world include:
|Antigua and Barbuda||18|
|Egypt||18 (many casinos are for foreigners only)|
|The Bahamas||18 (by law 21)|
|Greece||23 (the oldest after Portugal with 25)|
As we mentioned, the gambling age is different everywhere and different laws can be either strict or non-existent. Whatever the case, as a player, you should know what to expect and follow the customs of the country you are visiting, particularly when it comes to gambling. A large part of casinos around the world are regulated and approved by a responsible gambling commission, and there are strict safety measures to keep you out of trouble as a player, but self-control is very important for both your health and wallet. Online gambling websites are regulated by the laws and regulations of the country in which their services are provided and the enforcement procedures are stringent when it comes to underage gambling. So, please play responsibly! But don’t forget to have fun!