Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

November 8, 2008

LVSUN: Lower Gambling Age to 18?

Posted by Hunter

The LV Sun has an interesting article about the possibility of shifting the gaming age from 21 to 18 in Nevada in an effort to stimulate an industry that's hurting.

A few episodes ago, we discussed potential regulatory changes in gaming as a response to the economic crisis, though we focused on allowing strip clubs in casinos, the general concept is the same - will changes in regulation be sped along due to cash problems?


Read archived comments (17 so far)
November 9, 2008 7:22 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I'm all for this change. 18 is the age in Oklahoma, so it seems wrong when I go to Nevada and see the age 21 limit. I grew up in the liberal time, I turned 18 in 1976, and could buy beer legally (that only lasted a few years). I am a strong believer in the "If you are old enough to die for your country, you are old enough to do everything that is legal" philosophy. So much so, that I get angry when I see the "No one under 21" signs at the Casinos. I think this is a fortuitous time for them to decide to do the "right thing".

Strip clubs, on the other hand, are a bad idea. I just don't see where they can blend into any Casinos operations without creating more heartburn than they are worth. I have no objections to Strip clubs, I just dread the day when there are discussions on conference calls about REVPAT (Revenue per available tittie).

November 9, 2008 7:27 AM Posted by Hunter


Hahaaha. I love it.

November 9, 2008 8:11 AM Posted by mike_ch

Not a bad idea but so long as gambling is tied to tightly to booze it won't happen.

Nice to see that people there are aware of all their alternatives, though. Just that they dared to float this idea means somebody is doing their job.

November 9, 2008 9:56 AM Posted by brent

Not a good idea. Vegas is supposed to be an adult destination again. You just spent most this decade trying to attract high end clientel, and now you want to open the place up to some kids fresh out of high school? Part of the lure is that impression that Vegas is the big leagues and not for kids. Considering drinking is as much about Vegas as Gambling, it won't be worth all the trouble. Trying to sort out the youngins from the 21 plus will be a huge headache for the Casino, bars, and nightclubs. It will become a handstamp, wristband hell. All the while chasing away annoyed mature customers.

November 9, 2008 12:17 PM Posted by mike_ch

I think it's almost a little inappropriate, or perhaps a bit overly conservative, to refer to 18 year olds as children. I've never seen anything about any slot machine that I've played that suggests an 18 year old isn't ready for it. And I know it's increasingly relevant to say this kind of thing when there's a war going on,

As far as drinking age, well, there's two things to say about that. First of all, the national drinking age is 18, it's just that all 50 states raised their age to 21 via state legislation because recently-booted Senator Elizabeth Dole used her position as Transportation Secretary to withhold funds from states who didn't. College students and the like who ask the candidates every four years to do something about the drinking age don't understand that they need to talk to their Governors, not Presidents, about this issue.

Secondly, regarding "handstamp hell," the casinos that do attract a younger clientèle already have figured out how to do this. I went to a concert at the Hard Rock last month and plan to go to another one next month, and I saw it myself. Are there a lot of phony IDs floating around? Certainly, but the casinos have already figured out how to fulfil their obligations and can do it quite well.

As far as classy places being ruined by college-aged people being about, it seems to me if that becomes a serious liability they can do what Wynn does and what Bellagio once did as far as playing their "this is private property, we're asking you to leave" card and setting age restrictions.

November 9, 2008 1:48 PM Posted by mike_ch

Uh, whoops, got a bit carried away and distracted there.

What I mean to say in my incomplete first paragraph, is that there's the old "old enough to serve, not old enough to (______)" thing that pops up when a war is going on.


November 10, 2008 2:17 AM Posted by rowsdower

So 18 year olds are going to save our flagging gaming revenues? It reminds me of the South Park where the mayor decides to let the hippies have their music festival in town, saying it might pump a little money into the economy. Cartman: "Mayor, they're hippies! They don't have any money!"

November 10, 2008 8:33 AM Posted by Mike T

This is what I like to call, a terrible idea. The economy is down so we're going to let a bunch of high school seniors and freshmen from UNLV bail out Las Vegas? That's hilarious. This is as bad of an idea as lowering the drinking age.

November 10, 2008 11:19 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Best I've been able to determine, 686 American soldiers, under age 21, have been killed in Iraq since 2003. I sure hope someone can explain why any one of these people did not deserve the priveledge of playing a nickle slot machine at Casino Royale, because I sure can't. People under 21 are allowed in lobbies, food areas, all public spaces, etc. The only place they can't go are gaming areas and bars, neither of which have the reputation of being populated by quiet, conservative people.

November 10, 2008 12:02 PM Posted by dc

Seems like too huge a mess to have the gambling age be 18 and the drinking age be 21. You would have cocktail watiresses spending 90% of their night carding everyone.

Personally I'm all for lowering both to 18. I have a good friend of mine who lost his left arm in Afghanistan and he was 19 at the time. Hard for me to look him in the eye and tell him he's two years away from being able to legally drink or shoot some dice - but my government entrusts him with a weapon and the responsibility to protect our freedoms. But thats a conversation for another day.

November 10, 2008 3:35 PM Posted by Dave

I think it might be the right decision but for the wrong reason. We should change the gambling age because 18 year-olds are legally adults who can choose to gamble--they already can buy lottery tickets and gambling in casinos in Indianland and overseas, so why not? We shouldn't change the gambling age as a fix to a revenue short fall. That's a quintessential "slippery slope." If the ultimate goal of your public policy is to maximize revenues rather than protect the rights of individual adults to spend their money and time as they please, there's no compelling reason for drawing the line anywhere.

For a long time I've thought that the drinking, gambling, and driving age should consistently be 18. It seems to make more sense to say that at that age one is legally an adult than to say that you are mature enough to handle a half-ton lethal weapon at 16, but have to wait until you are 21 to get action down on the [whatever] game or to drink a beer.

I gave a lecture to a group from Australia today, and they were a little surprised that our gambling age is 21, since their's is 18. It's funny that some people think that the "21" thing is universally written in stone.

N.B., the original gambling age in Nevada circa 1869 was 17.

November 10, 2008 6:58 PM Posted by mike_ch

Dave, I think the drink and the car should arrive at different times for reasons I probably don't have to explain. I'm an open minded kind of guy, I know in France children are familiar with the taste of wine since they're toddlers, and don't have any problems with it.

But, putting driving age and drinking age at the same level will probably encourage more than a few people to do things they shouldn't, and also takes something away from those who already need a car to get to work, or live in the middle of nowhere where they're not likely to hurt anyone.

November 11, 2008 7:24 AM Posted by Chooch

As someone else pointed out, lowering the gaming age will do nothing for the Las Vegas economy. There are a very small number of trust fund 18 year-olds out there who can move the needle for the gaming companies.

Now, if people want to discuss civil rights, I have been a long proponent that if an 18 yr-old is old enough and responsible enough to make the decision to elect government and is old enough/responsible enough to serve in the military, he/she is old enough/responsible enough to have a beer and place a wager. That said, I think the policing of underage activity would have to be stepped up SIGNIFICANTLY. At 21, people who are 18 are easily using fake IDs to drink (mostly). If the age is lowered to 18, under the current system, it just makes it even easier for 15 year olds to drink. (I know there are plenty of 15 year olds, heck even 12 year olds who drink now). All of Europe is 18 to drink and they have significantly lower underage drinking problems and significantly lower alcohol related car accidents.

If you want lower legal ages, you have to also want more policing of such age. Be sure you know that it does not make any economic justification since most people between 18 and 21 won't move the needle on gambling or alcohol sales.

I still support lower ages, on principal.

November 12, 2008 8:19 AM Posted by Joey

It's official, I'm old because I think this is a horrible idea but can remember back in my youth how I'd be screaming about age discrimination and how they should have let us gamble if we can fight.

Funny how your perspectives change.

November 12, 2008 6:15 PM Posted by rowsdower

Even though I scoff at the idea that college kids (since that's really what we're talking about) can gamble at high stakes, there's an argument to be made for competing with destinations like Cancun for that very specific youth tourist dollar. I say let's give it a try.

I've argued for a long time that Vegas could build its brand by lowering the drinking age to 18. It cements our reputation as a place where you are allowed to do things you can't do at home. I thought our recent restaurant smoking ban was a huge error for just this reason.

Sure, it would invite some new problems, and yes there would be a tax penalty - but in the long run it could be highly desirable.

November 12, 2008 9:54 PM Posted by Mike T

"It's official, I'm old because I think this is a horrible idea.."

Haha, That doesn't make you old. I think it's a terrible idea, and I'm 33. Back in NY, I gambled at the Indian casino near Syracuse when I was 19, but that place sure as hell isn't Vegas.

January 28, 2011 9:32 PM Posted by parker

I think what a lot of people think. That military personal should be able to gamble. There are alot of people who do not understand what we go through every day while we are deployed. That when we get back we just thinking about having some fun. Like me when i get back from this deployment i am getting married and want to go to las vegas for our honey moon. She is already 21. I am 20. So i cant gamble or nothing with her unless we go to shows or something.