How Old Do You Have To Be To Play Bingo in the US?

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Bingo is a beloved game. It’s hard not to fall in love with the anticipation as you eagerly wait for the next number to be announced. Or the thrill of realizing that you have the winning card. There’s just one problem. Strict gambling laws dictate when it’s legal to start playing.

If venues let you play when underage, they face massive fines. To make matters even more complex, how old you need to be before you can start playing bingo varies, depending on where you live. Let’s break down these rules. 

States Where You Can Play Bingo At 16

Gambling is viewed differently than other forms of gambling. While it is still a game of chance, the proceeds are usually used to support charities. Because of this, some states allow people aged 16 to take place in bingo games. These states include: 

  • Maine
  • Oklahoma
  • Montana
  • Ohio

But there are some big caveats to keep in mind. First, this applies only to cash games. Most online bingo sites will require you to be 18 to register. Also, these states tend to be more restrictive about where you can play, so they can ensure that the money is going to a good cause. There might also be limits on when bingo halls can open. For example, in Maine, the halls have to close on Sunday

Some other states might allow people under 16 to play bingo. But you usually need to have your parent's permission. There might also be other restrictions, like reducing the amount of money on offer. Plus, these games need to take place in person. No US state lets people under 16 sign up for electronic bingo. These states include: 

  • North Dakota. If you don’t have your parents present, you’ll need to be 18 to play. 
  • New Mexico, which has no minimum age to start playing bingo
  • North Carolina, which doesn’t have any age limit on bingo games
  • Idaho, as long as the prize isn’t worth more than $25
  • Louisiana, as long as the money is going to support charity.

These are a limited set of circumstances where underage people can play bingo. Most of the time, these states will require you to turn 18 before you can legally take part.  

States Where You Can Play Bingo At 18

Like most gambling activities, you’ll usually need to wait until you turn 18 before you start playing bingo. These states will allow you to start playing bingo at 18:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Delaware
  • Connecticut
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Kentucky
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • South Carolina
  • Tennesee
  • Oregon
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Washington
  • Vermont

There is only one state that requires players to be 19 before playing bingo. That distinction goes to Alaska. However, there is a caveat. The bingo hall isn’t allowed to serve alcohol. If there is alcohol present, you’ll need to be over 21 before you can enter. 

States Where You Can Play Bingo At 21

While most states let you start gambling at 18, some have stricter gambling laws. These states will force you to wait until you are 21 before you can legally play: 

  • Iowa
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Utah

Other Bingo Restrictions

States don’t just regulate how old bingo players are. They also control how the game is played. First, some states only allow you to play in person, banning online games. If online bingo is allowed, there are strict rules that would need to be followed, like ensuring that the balls are chosen randomly.

This is done to ensure that all the games are fair. Plus, organizations who are running cash bingo games often have additional hoops to jump through, like being registered with gambling authorities. 

To make things even more complicated, Indian reservations can host bingo games. Since this is officially viewed as tribal land, the laws are slightly different than they are in the rest of the state. In some cases, gambling might be outlawed throughout the state, but players can still bet on tribal land. But you’ll still need to be at least 18 to play bingo as an adult, even in Indian casinos.

Another common restriction is controlling what the proceeds raised can be used for. Most commonly, the money needs to go towards supporting charity. This is why states like Texas, which have banned casinos and other forms of gambling, allow bingo

Who Needs To Enforce These Restrictions

Trying to decide if you’re allowed to play bingo can be tough. Throughout most of the US, you’ll need to be 18, unless you are taking part in a charity match with your parent’s permission.  Throw in some state-specific laws, and it can get quite confusing. 

However, it’s worth paying attention to these rules. If you get caught playing bingo underage, you could face harsh penalties. You might face a large fine. The exact size varies by state. Most of the time, though, you’ll be charged thousands of dollars for underage gambling. Depending on where you live, you could also have your driver’s license approval delayed by up to six months. 

That’s not the punishment the government will be handing out. The casinos will also be hit hard. They will usually cop a steep fine, costing them thousands. Plus, their reputation will be damaged. Because of this, they vigilantly check IDs and make sure that all the players are of legal gambling age. 

Playing Recreational Bingo

We’ve been focusing on cash games so far. But not all players are interested in the money. Sometimes, you just want to experience the joy of playing bingo. Recreational bingo might be the perfect option for you. You’ll find a huge array of websites and apps that will let you play bingo for fun. You aren’t playing for money or prizes, just in-game currency. Because of this, it isn’t considered gambling, and no age restrictions will apply. 

Conclusion

The laws that control the legal gambling age in the US are complex, varying on a state-by-state basis. It’s always best to check with your local authorities before you start playing. This simple action can stop you from getting hit with a large fine. 

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