How Old Do You Have to Be for Sports Betting in the US? Age Requirements!

How old do I need to be to bet whether or not the Boston Celtics will win the NBA Finals? 21 years old? If I’m 18 y.o, am I allowed to place a sports bet?

The age restrictions on sports betting are in place everywhere. Most younger sports fans can’t get into the gambling side of the games for a long time, especially if they grew up watching sports all the time.

It’s there for good reason, but it is something everyone has to consider when deciding whether they want to start gambling on athletic events. So, let’s find out together if you’re old enough beforehand!

Key Takeaways

  • Refer to our up-to-date table to ensure you are old enough to place a sports bet in your state.
  • You’ll know all about the severe consequences of illegal sports gambling.

The Legal Landscape Sports Betting Age Requirements

Perhaps the single most important factor to whether someone can or cannot place a bet on a sporting event is their age. Even if you’re in one of the United States that currently doesn’t allow gambling, you could leave and visit a neighboring state to bet on sports.

All legal sports betting operations have age restrictions. If you’re not old enough, there’s no workaround to the minimum gambling age. This applies to daily fantasy sports as well.

Federal and State Laws on Sports Betting Age

There is no federal law setting a minimum age for sports betting, leaving this responsibility to individual states.

After the 2018 repeal of the PASPA, which had broadly prohibited sports gambling, states gained the autonomy to regulate and legalize sports betting as they see fit.

→ So, 18 or 21 years old? Most states have set the legal betting age at 21, though some allow the minimum age at 18.

Retail vs. Online Sports Betting Age Limits

Retail sports betting requires visiting a physical location to place bets, and the legal age can vary by state.

For example: in North Carolina, both retail and online sports betting have a minimum age of 21. However, states like West Virginia might have different age requirements for retail versus online betting.

Sports Betting Age: A State-by-State Guide

Sports betting age restrictions vary significantly across the United States. While many states require bettors to be at least 21 years old, others allow those 18 and older to participate. It’s crucial to know the specific age requirements in your state, as they can differ for retail and online betting.

Complete Age Requirement Table for All States

According to Oceana Law, every state sets its age limits for:

  • Entering physical casinos
  • Betting on sportsbooks
  • Using online betting platforms like DraftKings or FanDuel

Most states require a minimum age of 21, though all set at least 18 years old as the minimum. Before betting, ensure you check the legal betting age in your location.

Here’s a table comparing all states where online sports betting is legal with their legal age.

Online Sports Betting US StateLegal Age Requirement
New Hampshire18
New Jersey21
New Mexico21
New York21
North CarolinaIllegal
North Dakota21
Rhode Island18
South Dakota18
South CarolinaIllegal
West Virginia21

Notable Exceptions and Considerations

Whether one part of sports gambling is legal or not is a key consideration. Some states allow you to physically gamble, but not digitally. (in land-based sites)

North Carolina was one such state until last summer. Before that, you could gamble at a building, but not online via an app or a website. That’s still true in Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and many other states. 

Recently, North Carolina came together with a couple of online sportsbooks to make it legal in their state. Hank Lee of WCNC reported,

BetMGM announced it has partnered with Charlotte Motor Speedway to bring its online sports betting platform to the Tar Heel State, while DraftKings has officially partnered with NASCAR.

Under North Carolina’s sports betting legislation, sportsbooks must have an agreement with a sports franchise or league to operate in the state.

As I am old enough to bet, that makes it a lot easier for me to place a parlay bet

The Evolution of Sports Betting Age Regulations

Sports Betting age requirements have not been unchanged this entire time. They change frequently. Obviously, some states have differing ideas on what the right age for everything is, and sometimes states will bounce off one another and change things based on what they see elsewhere. 

Historical Changes and Trends

  • Historically, the minimum legal age to bet in states like Alabama was once 21+, but previously varied for activities like horse and greyhound racing — 18 in some counties and 19 in others.
  • Arkansas, on the other hand, prohibited anyone under 18 from participating in pari-mutuel betting.
  • Florida and Alabama also had strict rules against minors even entering betting premises during events like horse races.

These rules have evolved significantly over time, reflecting changes in societal attitudes toward gambling.

Debates and Discussions on Age Limits

Today, while most states enforce sports gambling age limits of 18 or 21, there is ongoing debate over the adequacy of these restrictions. Concerns revolve around the potential for addiction and the exposure of minors to gambling culture.

For example: In the UK, there have been moves to prevent celebrities and athletes from appearing in gambling ads to reduce the appeal to underage individuals. In contrast, in the U.S., sports betting is heavily promoted, even during games and through sponsorships, potentially normalizing it for younger audiences.

Critics argue this could encourage underage gambling, despite existing age restrictions.

Navigating Legal Age Requirements Responsibly

In the digital age, it’s easy to circumvent age restrictions. Facebook is for 13 years and older, but a simple fudging of the year you were born means you could get on the site at nine years old if you wanted to.

This is a widespread issue that takes on a greater significance when it comes to something like sports betting. 

Verifying Age and Identity For Sports Betting

Fortunately, most gambling outlets and online sportsbooks have strict requirements, and they take this issue very seriously. They require extensive proof of age, some even require an ID to prove that you are who you say you are, and you are how old you say you are. 

For example: The new ESPN Bet app that just started has a very intense registration process. Any new user will be prompted to enter their personal information:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Home address
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • Date of birth

You can’t lie about your social security number, and it tells the truth about your age. If you’re under the age limit of 18 or 21 years of age (depending on the state), it’s very, very difficult to sign up into any betting site or app.

Understanding the Consequences of Illegal Sports Betting

The penalty one experiences for underage gambling can vary. But just like the legal drinking age, there are consequences for non-respect cases. According to John Tumelty Criminal Defense, there are five usual outcomes if anyone gambles when they’re below the legal gambling age:

  1. Fines: Ranging from $500 to $1,000
  2. Driver’s license suspension: Up to six months
  3. Probation
  4. Community service
  5. Jail time

If it’s a serious offense, Tumelty states that there’s a chance you can end up in jail. The parlay you were trying to place certainly isn’t worth any time in a cell, so it’s best to avoid any illegal underage sports wagering

The age at which one can gamble is hotly debated, but those who are not yet old enough need to know the severity of it. There’s no good outcome if you gamble when you’re not old enough, so just be patient! It’s worth the wait, I assure you.

I knew someone who tried to bet illegally, and it cost them a $500 fine. The wager they were attempting to place would have earned them about $450 if it hit, so it really wasn’t worth the risk. 

Bet on Sports Only if Legally Major in Your State

Although sports gambling can be a fun way of interacting with a sport, it’s definitely not worth lying about your age to commit a fraud. Make sure you wait until you are old enough!

Meanwhile, you can learn everything there is to know about Sports Betting with our betting 101 section, to ensure your future bets are optimal!