New Bill Would Lower Vegas Poker Room Age to 18

February 11, 2017

jim-wheeler-nevadaAs it stands, you can’t get into a Las Vegas poker room without being 21 or older. But Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler is trying to lower the state’s minimum gambling age from 21 to 18.

Called Assembly Bill 86, this piece of legislation has been submitted to Nevada’s legislature. If successful, AB86 will allow both state residents and visitors to enter casinos and poker rooms as long as they’re 18.

Wheeler, who often wears a white cowboy hat, has been asking around to see what others think of his proposal. “Well, the fact is in this business you actually have to put a bill out before you get comments on it,” he said.

Nevada’s current age limit of 21 has been in effect since gambling was legalized in the Silver State in 1931. However, some lawmakers have begun to question this limit in recent years, including when a bill was introduced in 2008.

The idea behind the 2008 legislation was to lower the gambling age and help Nevada casinos during the Great Recession. But it couldn’t get enough support, meaning, in better economic times, AB86 has an en even tougher climb ahead.

Most US states impose an age limit of 21 because, like with alcohol and marijuana, they want to prevent young people from the harmful side. But Wheeler believes that if you’re old enough to be in the military, then you deserve more liberties.

He said, “I think if you’re old enough to go to Afghanistan, or Yemen, or Iraq and fight – if you’re old enough to drink in some states – if you’re old enough to vote – then you ought to be old enough to gamble, if that’s what you want to do.”

One thing making this situation stickier is that casinos – like other businesses – can only serve alcohol to people 21 and older. So if 18 year old’s are allowed into the casino, employees will have an even tougher time making sure that minors don’t get served. Nevada’s toughest penalty for inadvertently serving a minor is a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.