If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Las Vegas on vacation, there’s no doubt you’ll be looking forward to partying and trying your luck at one of the city’s hundreds of casinos.
But while it’s meant to be fun – after all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – make sure you stay on the right side of the law. Casinos take their gambling licenses seriously; it’s their livelihood. Anyone found breaking the gambling laws in Sin City will be ejected by establishments at best and handed over to the cops at worst.
So, to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch, here’s our guide to the gambling laws in Las Vegas, Nevada. To be sure nothing has changed, do your research and be confident you know what you’re doing.
Gambling Age in Las Vegas is 21
Firstly, and most obviously, is you must be aged 21 to gamble in Las Vegas. In the UK, the age limit is 18 nationwide, but things get a little more confusing when you head to the US. The age limit varies from one State to another, because of the country’s layered federal system of Government.
In some US states, the gambling limit is 18, like in the UK. Others make 21 for all gaming, while some have aged 21 and 18 for different gambling activities. For example, in some states, you must be 21 to play in a casino, but 18 to bet on the lottery or horse racing.
To save any confusion, be assured that you can not gamble whatsoever in Las Vegas until you are at least 21 years old. And because everyone is so strict, be prepared to show your photo ID if you’re lucky to look young enough.
People under the age of 21, children even, are allowed into the casinos to walk through the walkways. But they must not linger close to the slot machines or gaming tables. Common sense should prevail here, but if your kids try to come and watch you playing blackjack, they’ll be told to move on sharpish.
Casinos will get into loads of trouble by letting under 21s gamble, like these three Atlantic City casinos.
Drinking Alcohol in Las Vegas
If you’re used to buying a drink in the UK from the age of 18, you’ll be frustrated to know you can’t drink alcohol in Las Vegas casinos until you’re 21. Drinking under 21 is prohibited anywhere in the USA.
The law is strictly adhered to, and you will be asked for photo ID regularly. Sadly, you’ll have to watch from a distance as your older friends or relatives get to gamble in the Las Vegas casinos while enjoying endless comped drinks.
Working in Las Vegas
You might well be a trained poker dealer or experienced croupier in the UK, but that doesn’t mean you can rock up to Vegas and get a job in one of the many casinos, like the Bellagio, Wynn, MGM, Caesars Palace or Venetian.
Instead, any gaming employee must be registered in the State of Nevada and have a valid gaming work permit. This law applies to all casino workers, except bartenders and cocktail waitresses.
Cheating at Gaming
Cheating at the gaming tables is not allowed. The Nevada Gaming Control Board takes a dim view of such behaviour and even has a “Most Wanted” list of people it wants to speak to for alleged cheating.
Taxation on Las Vegas winnings
This might be a surprise to many UK visitors in Las Vegas, but if you win big, the chances are a portion of your winnings will be retained by the casino to pay the taxman, or Internal Revenue Service as it’s known in the States.
Gambling winnings in the UK are all tax-free, but technically, any win for a foreigner of over $600 in the US is likely to mean 30% held back. You’ll get a form to fill in which should mean, after a fair bit of time and admin, your money will be returned eventually.
However, slots are exempt, and if you win a load of money on a table game session of, say, roulette or blackjack, the casino has no way of knowing how much you invested in the first place. So, you should be fine. Where visitors tend to get caught out is if they enter a big poker tournament, like the World Series of Poker, and win big.
What if You Get Caught
It’s always wise not to take any risks and stay on the right side of the law. Anyone caught is banned from all casinos in Nevada and added to the so-called Nevada Black Book – a sort of rogues’ gallery. You don’t want your holiday mugshot to be on this website, so observe the Las Vegas casino laws and enjoy your visit.
Too young to gamble? Wait until you’re old enough – it will be worth it!