Do You Have to Be 21 to Play Slot Machines?

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Slot machines are typically only available to 21-year-olds. After all, 21 is the common age limit for casinos in many states and countries.

However, do you have to wait until being 21 to play slots everywhere? Or can you enjoy spinning the reels at a younger age?

I’ll answer these questions in the following post. I’m also going to discuss where, if anywhere, you can play slot machines under the age of 21.

Regular Slot Machines Are Usually Only Available to 21-Year-Olds

Regular slot machines (a.k.a. Class III) are normally only legal for gamblers aged 21+. These slots, which are commonly found in Vegas and other major gaming destinations, use a random number generator (RNG) to determine results.

The RNG cycles through countless number sequences to determine wins and losses. It ensures that each spin is completely random from the last one.

Given this randomness, a slot machine is a bigger game of chance than anything else in the casino. Slots also play at a fast rate and can take your much quicker than other games.

You might think that the luck factor and fast losses are why young adults can’t usually play slot machines. As I’ll cover later, though, alcohol is the real reason behind the exclusion of younger gamblers.

Some Types of Slots Are Open to 18-Year-Olds

The Class III slot machines that are available in commercial casinos aren’t normally open to players under 21. However, the following types of slots are usually available to anybody aged 18+.

Class II

As per the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, tribal casinos have the option to negotiate gaming compacts with their respective state governments. In most cases, though, these compacts don’t include Class III gaming.

Instead, tribes are only eligible to offer the Class II variety. Class II gaming refers to poker and bingo-like games.

Given that tribal casinos can’t use Class III slot machines, they offer slots with bingo-style results. Slot machines are hooked up to a large server, which rapidly generates bingo results.

These bingo games determine the results of the slot machines. When playing a Class II slot, you likely won’t even notice the difference when compared to a Class III game.

VLTs

Video lottery terminals (VLTs) are machine-based games that are usually available in bars and restaurants. As the name implies, they’re typically operated by a lottery organization.

They can feature either keno or slots. VLTs may draw results from either an RNG or centralized server that’s similar to what’s used with Class II games.

Canadian lotteries commonly employ VLTs. More and more US state lotteries have adopted these machines to earn additional revenue as well.

Skill Games

In certain states, convenience stores can offer skill games. A skill game is a slot machine that includes some degree of skill—no matter how large or small.

Usually, the only skill involved includes tapping winning combinations and/or wild symbols onscreen. Provided you’re observant enough, you won’t miss any of these payouts/wilds.

Some skill slot machines are more involved and require mastery of the bonus round.

For Example:

You might have to memorize certain symbols and uncover them later in the bonus. Skill games aren’t normally a regulated form of gaming. Instead, they rely on a loophole existing in many states, where skill-based games don’t fall under the gambling category.

Why Can You Play Certain Slot Machines at 18?

The games described above have some small differences compared to normal slot machines. Nevertheless, they look and play like slots for the most part.

That said, you might wonder why an 18-year-old can play one of these games but not a Class III slot machine. Alcohol is the primary reason behind the distinction.

Commercial casinos sell alcoholic beverages and even give them away as comps. Of course, they can only sell/give drinks to those aged 21 and over.

Assuming they also let gamblers aged 18-20 into their establishments, they’ll have a tougher time not serving underage drinkers.

A minimum gambling age of 21 improves the odds of not serving underagers. Given that Class III slot machines are housed in commercial casinos, they’re only open to players aged 21+.

Skill games, meanwhile, are available in convenience stores. Gas stations don’t serve open drinks to customers, meaning they can accept 18-year-old players without worrying about underage drinking.

Establishments that offer Class II slot machines and VLT’s can go either way regarding alcohol. Assuming they don’t offer drinks, then they’ll typically accept 18-year-old gamblers.

Can You Play Online Slots at 18?

Generally speaking, you cannot legally play online slots at the age of 18. However, you may find certain loopholes that allow you to gamble online.

You might visit a reservation, for example, that permits 18-year-old players. In this case, you could legally play online casino games.

Many states don’t have a strong stance on internet gaming. They haven’t crafted legislation that defines the rules for online gambling.

You could potentially be in the right to gamble at 18+ in these cases. Assuming you want to be on the safe side, though, it’s best to avoid gambling online until you’re at least 21.

Will You Be Arrested for Illegally Playing Slots at 18?

If you get caught playing online slots at 18 where doing so is illegal, then you probably won’t be arrested. Law enforcement in most jurisdictions doesn’t care to waste their time pursuing internet gaming crimes.

The onus is put on the operators to avoid taking underage customers. In regulated markets, these operators face steep fines if they don’t do a good job at age verification.

Offshore casinos, meaning those that are unregulated, urge players to follow the laws of their respective jurisdictions. They may also only allow gamblers who are 21+ as a precautionary measure.

I can’t guarantee that you won’t be arrested when playing mobile slots at 18-20 years old. Again, though, the likelihood of this happening is almost nonexistent.

What Other Types of Gambling Are Open to 18-Year-Olds?

Certain kinds of slot machines aren’t the only type of gambling you can enjoy as an 18-year-old. Many states also open up the following games to younger adults.

Bingo

Many people get their first taste of bingo in elementary school. However, they may not realize that they’re eligible to gamble on bingo at 18 in many states.

Bingo parlors don’t typically serve alcohol, meaning they’re willing to accommodate younger players. They may also be part of a charity gaming operation (covered below).

Charity

Charity gaming encompasses a broad range of games, such as bingo, poker, and pull-tab machines.  Depending upon the state, several forms of gambling can be legal under the charity banner.

Operators must give a portion of their revenue towards a selected cause. In some cases, though, they only have to fork over as little as 2.5% of proceeds to charity.

As a result, some lawmakers feel that the line between pure gambling and charity has been blurred. Nevertheless, this type of gaming is quite popular in many jurisdictions.

Lotteries

The lottery is perhaps the most-popular form of gambling worldwide. Numerous people buy lottery tickets on a daily basis.

The jackpots are the big attractions to these games. Mega Millions and Powerball, for example, have even delivered jackpots worth over $1 billion!

Ease of play is another attraction to lottery games. You need only ask for a ticket and provide your requested numbers to play. Alternatively, you can simply select Quick Pick and have a machine auto-generate the numbers.

Scratch-offs are another popular element of lotteries. With these tickets, you simply scratch off the opaque to see if you win.

Conclusion

You normally have to be 21 to play traditional slot machines (Class III) at commercial casinos. However, you don’t need to be 21 to enjoy other types of slots.

Depending upon the state, you can play Class II machines, VLT’s, and skill games as young as 18. These games can all be available in alcohol-free establishments, meaning operators are willing to open up to 18-year-olds.

Online slots, meanwhile, aren’t usually available to gamblers aged 18-20. If you’re this young, you’ll need to visit a jurisdiction that accepts younger players.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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