As NFL and sports betting is now something that U.S. states can legally license and sanction if they see fit, more people are waking up to the possibility of placing wagers on big games to make the action even more interesting and exciting.
Of course, there are still a number of restrictions that apply both depending on where you live and your age. States are in charge of implementing legal gambling ages for all sorts of relevant activities, and being aware of these limitations is important if you want to avoid embarrassment.
With that in mind, here is a look at how legal gambling ages differ across the country, as well as the other considerations that you should make before you bet.
The varied approaches to gambling regulation and legislation taken by states can be confusing, although there are a few fairly consistent rules that will give you a good idea of what to expect.
For example, according to the table outlining legal gambling age by state in America at legalgamblingage.com, there are currently 15 states in which you have to be 21 or older to be able to gamble on football games and other sports legally.
This correlates with the minimum drinking age and means that there is even more to get excited about as you approach your 21st birthday if you live in one of the states where this rule applies. At the moment that list includes places like South Dakota, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, amongst others.
Of course, if you want to start gambling on football sooner rather than later, there are a handful of states where lower minimum age restrictions are in place. In places like Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Virginia, you can start using sports betting services as soon as you turn 18.
Wherever you live or plan to travel to bet on sports, be sure to do your research and check that you meet the specific legal requirements of the state in question, or you could find yourself in hot water.
The other important aspect of gambling on football that brings legal ages and general state legislation into the equation is the online sports betting ecosystem.
This is a far newer area of the market and one which has been less widely embraced by regulators, in spite of the fact that it is now entirely legal for such websites to operate in the US, at least in theory.
Further complexities are thrown into play by the fact that while some states may allow sports betting at land-based venues, there may still be a ban on their online counterparts.
For example, in West Virginia, you can legally bet on football so long as you are 21 or older and you head to licensed bricks and mortar bookmakers. Meanwhile, in the same state, it is illegal for betting sites to operate for customers of any age, which creates a jarring disconnect that many will find vexing given how widely available such gambling services are available elsewhere in the country and around the world.
The same unfortunate set of circumstances also applies to Rhode Island, South Dakota, and New Mexico. Meanwhile, the only states where you can legally bet on sports from the age of 18 or 21 both at land-based outlets and online are New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with states including Delaware and Michigan currently in the process of making changes to follow suit.
Taking the initiative and gambling responsibly
Now that you know about how legal gambling ages work and why it is best to use caution and carry out research before you dive in, it is necessary to cover a few of the other variables and facets that are at play for budding fans of sports betting.
Firstly, it is always advisable to only bet in states where you meet the minimum requirements and also use sites that are officially licensed by the state in question. Out of state or overseas operators may be tempting to use, but if you want to avoid any potential legal red tape if you happen to win big, sticking to the rules of your region will be your best option for achieving this.
Secondly, it is always worth staying in the loop on the latest developments in this arena, since regulations are changing and being updated all the time; within the last two years alone, sports betting has been legalized in over 15 states. Do your research, adhere to the letter of the law, check expert analytics, follow NFL news, and gamble responsibly to enjoy the best experience.