18 plus onlyIt is common knowledge that you need to be 18-years-of age or older in order to be able to place bets in casinos in the United Kingdom. Whilst most people will know that, what not everyone will also know is how old you need to be in order to even walk into a casino’s entrance. If your mum, dad, order sister or aunt and uncle have decided to pop into a casino and you’re 17, are you allowed to sit in the bar area and have a coffee whilst you wait? Can you go with them and offer them advice about what to bet on?

There is an easy answer to those questions, which is ‘no’. Because of rules set down by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, everyone even setting foot on a casino’s property needs to be at least 18 years of age, which is in line with the minimum age to place a bet, so it is at least easy to understand. That is the case regardless of what it is that you’re hoping to do, whether it be get a bite to eat, drink something at the bar or head onto the gaming floor and place a few bets on the tables or slot machines on offer.

Why There Are Age Limits?

Inside a casino

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Those that are of a libertarian persuasion might well ask why it is that casinos have any rules on the minimum age that someone has to be to enter a casino. Indeed, there will doubtless be plenty of people out there saying that they ‘watched their dad bet when they were ten and it didn’t do them any harm’, for example. In reality, however, the rules are there for a reason, with that reason being that research is pretty clear about what happens when people experience gambling at a young age, with them being up to four times more likely to develop a gambling problem.

Of course, the fact that there are age limits isn’t that surprising, but it does seem somewhat confusing where the British government chooses to draw its lines on certain issues. You would be able to legally get someone pregnant at 16, join the army and kill someone at the same age and drive a car when you’re a year older. Why is it that all of those things are deemed to be less serious than placing a bet on a roulette wheel or sitting down at a blackjack table and having a guess at whether the dealer will beat you?

The answer seems to be that money is the deciding factor. You don’t actually need to own a car in order to be able to drive, whilst you actively get paid to join the army. When it comes to being a parent, it is a costly thing when you’re looking to bring the child up properly but doesn’t actually cost anything to simply have a baby. When you’re talking about gambling, however, you can lose a lot of money very quickly and that is the thing that the laws that have been put in place are trying to protect people from.

The 2005 Gambling Act

Gavel judge

The laws that tell us what age people have to be in order to enter a gambling establishment were created as part of the Gambling Act of 2005. The Act itself was created as a way of offering better protection to young people, so it is hardly surprising that one of the main areas of focus was on this topic. It is interesting to note that there are different rules for other betting establishments than casinos and bookmakers, though. As an example, under-18-year-olds are allowed to enter a bingo hall, they just aren’t allowed to play bingo.

This extends to not being able to help people with their bingo card, such is the strictness of the rule. In order to be able to enter the bingo hall, any Category B and Category C machines that might be present have to be in a separate area that is limited to adults only. This is also true of gaming centres and arcades. Whilst private members’ clubs can offer bingo for people aged under 18, the person needs to be a member and the games either have to be non-commercial or else specifically limited to members.

Age Limits at Casinos

Roulette table closeup

Casinos tend to have their own rules and regulations when it comes to how old you need to look in order to enter them, but the minimum age that you’ll have to actually be remains 18. That is to say, one casino might ask you to prove how old you are if you look like you’re under 21, whilst another might set that limit at 25. Regardless of the minimum age that they put in place before asking you for identification, if you are under 18 when you actually give them your ID then you’ll be asked to leave.

Of course, just because the law says that the minimum age to gamble is 18, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to gamble in the casino if that’s how old you are. Ultimately, venues are allowed to set their own rules and regulations and might well decide that you can only bet there if you’re over 25, say. This is entirely up to them and there’s nothing that you can do about it if you don’t meet that age requirement. Some might choose to argue, but they’re going to be given short shrift by casino employees.

What About Online Casinos?

Mobile casinos

Nowadays, the move to play at online casinos has grown to the point where it might actually be the dominant way of playing casino games. As a result, it is is worth pointing out that the age restriction of 18 and older remains in place, even if you’re playing roulette online rather than in person. Because of this, any attempts to join an online casino will be met by a requirement to prove not only who you are but how old you are. You will need to provide something like your passport or a photo ID like a driver’s licence.

Whether you’re looking to play online poker, place a bet on a football match or get involved with an online roulette table, if you can’t prove that you’re at least 18-years-old then you won’t be able to. The only good news is that you personally won’t be in as much trouble as the person who allowed you to gamble, who will be liable up to 51 weeks in prison, as well as a large fine. Little wonder, then, that the online casinos are keen to do what they can to stop people from gambling if they shouldn’t be doing so.