The minimum legal age for playing in a casino in Canada is not the same as in the other countries. So even if you’re 18 or 20, you won’t be able to take full advantage of some gambling havens.
Here are the top 3 destinations where under 21s are not allowed to play:
Las Vegas and some US states
Las Vegas is probably the most emblematic city: while Sin City has a reputation for being a sultry city where anything goes, the laws concerning minors are applied with great severity.
If you’re under 21, you’ll have a hard time getting a hotel room in an establishment with a casino! The problem will not be at the time of booking but on the spot at check-in: the hotel staff will systematically want to check your identity card.
In other words, in this context, playing games will be strictly impossible. However, you may be allowed to enter the hotel casino if you are wearing a bracelet that indicates you are a minor. In this case, don’t spend too much time admiring the slot machines or watching someone play, as this will quickly attract the security guards and they will not hesitate to throw you out.
And don’t think that Las Vegas is the only city that is vigilant towards young people!
In some places in the US, even when the legal age of majority is 18, you cannot:
- Buy and consume alcohol
- Play in a casino
Having a tourist visa does not change the situation: this restrictive regulation applies to everyone. Security guards do not hesitate to ask to see your passport, even if it means becoming annoying when you simply have a rather juvenile face.
Here are some of the states concerned: Nevada, Louisiana, New Jersey, Arizona, Iowa, Colorado, California…
Macau and Asian restrictions
Most of the time, you can play blackjack or slot machines in Asia if you are just 18 years old.
But here again, one should not generalise: in Asia too, many countries have preferred to prevent minors (even if they are Westerners) from indulging their passion for gambling.
For example, casinos in the gambling capital of the world, sultry Macau, have been banned to under 21s since 1 November 2012! Before this law, there was an exception for players from abroad: from the age of 18, they were allowed to have fun in the gaming rooms. But this privilege is now over.
All establishments respect this rule, even those that target a foreign clientele such as the luxurious MGM, Wynn Palace, Sands, or Venetian Macau hotels.
It is estimated that in 2020, 430,000 young people (23% compared to 2019) were refused entry to gaming rooms in Las Vegas Oriental. Those who decide to break these rules risk a lot: fines range from MOP 1,000 to MOP 10,000 (about C$101 to C$1,014) for underage gamblers and from MOP 10,000 to MOP 500,000 (about C$1,014 to C$50,680) for casinos.
You will find a similar situation in Malaysia or Singapore regarding the legal age.
Good to know: in Singapore, your identity (and therefore your age) will be systematically checked when you buy a “Casino Entry Levy”, a kind of pass that is compulsory to be able to play in the casinos. For information, a 24 Hours Entry Levy costs C$100 and allows you to play 24 hours a day for 30 days from the date of purchase. There is also an annual pass for C$1200.
Beyond the question of legal age, you should also check whether the country you are in allows gambling. In Bangkok (Thailand), for example, where illegal gambling dens are springing up like mushrooms, gambling is strictly forbidden and the penalties for breaking the law can be very severe. Nor will you have any recourse if you are scammed, which happens frequently (especially if you are a tourist!).
Some European countries
Within the European Union, there are no surprises: as in many other areas, it is a bit of a mess…
And depending on the country you are in, the legislation can be very different.
While in the UK, having the legal age of majority (18) is enough to engage in all types of gambling, the situation varies considerably among our European neighbours.
Some countries have decided to restrict access to casinos in order to protect players from addiction or the temptation to spend too much.
This is notably the case in Belgium and Estonia (minimum age of 21), or Greece (minimum age of 23 for casinos but also for online gambling).
And in Sweden, you have to be at least 20 years old to enter a gambling hall.
There may also be differences depending on the type of gambling: for example, in Portugal, you are allowed to play in casinos from the age of 18, but you will have to wait until you are 21 to bet.
As you can see, the legal age at which you can cross the threshold of a casino varies drastically from country to country. There is only one thing in common: gambling is never considered harmless. So there’s one thing to remember: before you put on your best suit/dress to go and hit the casino, make sure you are of legal age to gamble. It would be a shame to be turned away at the last minute! In any case, it’s best to always know where you stand to avoid disappointment.