Las Vegas can be a fun time for all, and despite a reputation as ‘Sin City’, there are numerous rules and regulations in place to ensure that it remains an entertaining vacation spot for people of all ages.
One such regulation is the gambling age in Nevada, which is designed to stop young people getting into potential financial trouble in the casinos.
But what exactly is the legal gambling age in Las Vegas, and what are the reasons for this?
When Was Las Vegas Founded?
Las Vegas might have an air of glamor to it now, not to mention a brighter image as an all-round entertainment hot spot, but when it was founded in the 1940s, Vegas was very much mob-controlled.
Some of the first casinos were developed and run by renowned gangsters – most notably Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, whose Murder Inc. criminal organization, along with his historic association with Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and their outfit ‘The Commission’. only helped add to the outlaw mystique that the town developed.
The first casino opened on the Las Vegas strip was The Flamingo Hotel, which Siegel himself had a hand in financing and developing, after the original developer William R. Wilkerson’s funds ran out.
Despite Siegel’s untimely (and mysterious) murder at the age of 41, the Las Vegas strip continued to thrive, becoming a much sought after resort for the rich and famous, not to mention those looking to make their fortune.
What Is The Gambling Age In Las Vegas?
Nowadays, Vegas has developed a much more polished image, and offers both an escape for vacationers looking to unwind, not to mention those looking for a raucous weekend.
As such, over the years, more and more restrictions needed to be added to keep up with the changing image.
One such regulation is the gambling age, which in Las Vegas is 21 years old. This is a pretty standard age in the United States, and is both the same for alcohol consumption (see also “Can You Bring Your Own Alcohol In The Casino?“), as well as other gambling outlets – such as online casino sites.
Reasons For The Gambling Age
The fact of the matter is that, ultimately, people need restrictions to keep them safe and in line.
This is especially true when you take somewhere as Vegas, where temptation is around every corner, and the prospect of something bad happening can be somewhat heightened – most notably when alcohol and gambling come into the mix.
One major reason for the gambling age is to protect young people from potential financial ruin as a result of gambling – not to mention the trouble they could get in with regards owing money etc.
It would be highly irresponsible if there were no restrictions, and the number of tragedies would be higher if they were no longer restricted to fully grown adults.
With youth comes naivety and recklessness, and as such, these restrictions are there for people’s best interest.
Common sense also plays a large role – especially when taking into account the unique nature of Las Vegas.
In other states, a young gambler might get away with sneaking into a gambling room and playing a few hands, and usually the consequences will be fairly minimal.
However, in Las Vegas, where the entire town – at least once upon a time – was dedicated to gambling (see also “Gambling As A Full-Time Job: Is It Possible?“) and adult entertainment, then the prospect for higher degrees of trouble rises exponentially.
Has The Law Always Been Clear?
Since 1931, the gambling age has been pretty consistent, but the one that has changed is the extent to which the laws were observed.
While the law has always been present, it is only really in recent decades when they have been followed to their fullest.
This could be a result of greater awareness of the ills of gambling, not to mention other potential risks, or it could be a result of greater legal consequences if something should go wrong – such as libel lawsuits and other consequences.
What Are The Consequences Of Underage Gambling?
One thing that is notable about Nevada is that, despite offering some of the best adult entertainment, gambling, and good times in the world, their rules and regulations are also some of the strictest, and this is no coincidence.
In Nevada, the legal ramifications of breaking the gambling laws – for either the underage gambler or the establishment – will result in prosecution.
If you are under the age of 21, then you will be charged with a Nevada misdemeanor, as well as a violation of NRS-463.350. This will result in a $1000 fine, and depending on the age of the offender, could result in a six month prison sentence.
The same goes for underage gamblers who use fake IDs – something that is also a violation of NRS-463.350 – wherein the same punishment will be delivered.
As for gambling establishments, the penalties are much higher – consisting of monumental fines, potential prison time for owners, and the prospect of being closed down.
State-Wide Gambling Laws
Around the United States, there are some minor differences, depending on the state, and the nature of the gambling that takes place.
In Idaho, the minimum age requirement for poker, casinos, lottery, and bingo is 18 years old – as well as in Nevada’s neighboring state of California.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about Las Vegas casinos (see also “Can You Smoke In Vegas Casinos?“), and the legal age requirement for players to gamble.
There is much fun to be had in Vegas, and it has become renowned the world over for its reputation as ‘Sin City’. However, there are rightly strict laws and regulations in place to ensure that it remains fun and safe for as many people as possible.
So if you are legal to gamble, and want to sample the lights of the Vegas Strip, then why not check it out? Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!