Gambling is defined as the act of playing a game or lottery and laying down stakes, usually money, in hopes of winning and collecting more than you put down. There are a few different types of gambling, as defined by the law, and many states have differing laws regarding the legal gambling age for each type.
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Though most lotteries are run by the state, there are a few interstate lotteries that many states participate in. With the lottery, players buy a ticket in hopes that it contains the winning number or a code for other cash and prizes, as in with scratch-off lottery tickets. In most states, the legal age to play the lottery is 18. The age is either 21 or in the process of being changed to 21 in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana and Michigan. The lottery is illegal, regardless of age, in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.
Casino gambling is the kind of gaming in Las Vegas and many Native American casinos throughout the country. In most states, the law either requires players to be 21 or is in the process from going to 18 to 21. This is usually because many casinos serve alcohol on the casino floor or too close by for those under 21 to legally be present. The legal age limit varies between 18 and 21 by casino in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Oregon and West Virginia. The legal age for casino gaming is 18 in Alaska, D.C., Minnesota, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and Washington. Casino gambling is illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming. Maine is the only state where the legal age is 16.
Pari-mutuel gambling, or mutual gambling, is where players create a bet pool and all money bet toward any outcome goes into one big pot. A good example of pari-mutuel gambling is horse racing. Like other forms of gambling, the legal age is determined by the specific state. In the majority of states the legal age is 18, though some states differ. For instance, in Alabama the legal age is 19, while in Illinois it's 17. The legal age is 21 or in the process of being changed to 21 in Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota and Texas. Pari-mutuel gambling is illegal in Alaska, D.C., Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Utah and the Virgin Islands.
Online gambling can be a tricky situation. Online casinos aren't typically restricted by state law so some sites require players to be 18 while others request 21. The gambling website should clearly state its legal age requirements during the sign-up process required to win any actual money. According to Casino People, if a minor lies and pretends to be over the legal age he will not be able to collect any winnings as law prohibits it. Those gambling online in states where gambling is illegal won't be able to claim any winnings either, so before paying an online casino to play, make sure you're in a state that allows gambling.
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