What is the Legal Gambling Age in Pennsylvania?

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Legal Gambling Age in PA

Like most US states, the legal gambling age in Pennsylvania varies according to the activity in question. That can be confusing for visitors – and even for locals. In this article, we’ll lay out exactly what the PA gambling law says about the gambling age in Pennsylvania. But first, here’s a quick summary, broken down by the type of gambling involved:

Land-Based Casinos Online Casinos Sports Betting Poker Fantasy Sports Lottery & Bingo Pari-Mutuel
21 21 21 21 18 18 18

Legal Casino Gambling Age in PA

Let’s start with the Pennsylvania casino age first. Players must be at least 21 to engage in any form of casino gaming, including slots and table games. This was originally defined in HB2330, or the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act of 2004.

Starting from 2006, 14 sites would be permitted to operate slot machines legally. This included five standalone casinos, with two more at holiday resorts and seven at existing horse racing venues. The resorts were granted up to 600 slots each, with as many as 5,000 at the other locations.

This act also led to the creation of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) which regulates the state’s gambling industry today. An amendment in July 2010 permitted the introduction of table games, with a cap of 50 in casino resorts and up to 250 elsewhere.

Online Casino Age in PA

October 30, 2017 was a significant date for gambling in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf signed HB 271 into law, amending existing wagering legislation and effecting the following changes:

  • Removal of a state-wide ban on sports betting, paving the way for legal sportsbooks in future;
  • Establishment of a regulatory framework to allow legal online gambling, overseen by the PGCB;
  • Expansion of land-based gambling to include satellite casinos, video gaming terminals at truck stops and tablet gaming at airports.

However, one thing the amendment did not change was the minimum age to take part in such activities. As we mentioned earlier, the legal casino gambling age in PA was already 21. And this figure remained in place for the newly introduced online casinos.

The state’s internet gambling industry officially came into being in July 2019, as multiple PA online casinos and sports betting sites launched simultaneously.

Legal Age for the Other Forms of Gambling in Pennsylvania

Now we know all about the legal PA casino age. But what about different forms of gambling, like poker, horse racing or lottery games? Do you still have to be 21 to wager, or is the law different? Let’s find out.

Sportsbook

The changes introduced by HB 271 saw the lifting of a sports betting ban in the Keystone State. However, at that time, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was still in play.

Once this was overturned by the federal government in 2018, lawmakers in PA were already well placed to quickly legalize sports betting. The Pennsylvania Sports Wagering Act was duly created, which prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from partaking in sportsbook wagering.

Horse and Dog Racing

Meadows Racetrack opened in 1963, becoming the first legal horse racing venue in PA. Betting on the sport was legalized four years earlier, with the passage of the Race Horse Industry Reform Act in 1959. This piece of legislation specifies that bettors must be 18 or older in order to wager.

In fact, all forms of pari-mutuel gambling in the state have the same legal minimum age requirement of 18. This includes greyhound racing.

Poker

The PGCB also has responsibility for regulating land-based poker in the Keystone State, where the minimum age to play is 21. At present, there are ten bricks-and-mortar casinos in PA with poker rooms that spread tournaments and cash games.

Online gambling was illegal in Pennsylvania for a long time, including poker. But HB 271 changed everything in 2017. Since then, licensed land-based casinos are now permitted to run internet poker games of their own, or affiliate with existing online operators. Again, the minimum age to take part is 21.

Daily Fantasy Sports

The aforementioned Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act provides the regulatory framework for Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) gambling too. As such, players must be at least 18 years old to play.

There are currently eight DFS providers with a license to operate in Pennsylvania, including FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo Fantasy Sports.

Lottery and Bingo

Pennsylvania’s state lottery was set up in 1971 with the passage of Act 91. This forbids anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing a lottery ticket. However, the act also states that an 18 year old is allowed to purchase a ticket as a gift for someone below the age of 18.

The Bingo Law also stipulates a minimum requirement of 18 in order to play. But interestingly, it mentions that under 18s can take part in bingo games if accompanied by an adult, or with written permission.

FAQ

Is gambling legal in the state of Pennsylvania?

Yes. Most forms of gambling are allowed in PA, including casinos, sports betting, horse racing and lottery. It is possible to wager both online and in land-based establishments.

How old do you have to be to gamble in PA?

There is no single PA gambling age. The majority of wagering pursuits, such as casino gaming, poker and sports betting, are restricted to 21 year olds. However, 18 year olds can purchase lottery tickets and take part in pari-mutuel betting.

Is the legal gambling age in PA different online?

No. The gambling age in PA varies by the activity involved, but it doesn’t matter whether you play in a retail environment or online. For instance, you must be 21 to play at casinos, either physical or online. We’ve explained the differences in full elsewhere in this guide.

What is the gambling age in Pennsylvania for sports betting?

In order to place sports bets in PA, whether online or land-based, you must be 21 years of age or older.

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