Answered: How Old Do You Have to Be to Gamble on a Cruise?

Headed out on a cruise with some young adults in tow? Or maybe you are taking a Spring Break cruise while in college and not sure if you’re allowed to play blackjack while on the ship.

No matter the reason, it’s a good question to ask how old do you have to be to gamble in a cruise ship casino. After all, once the ship goes into international waters, there aren’t many laws, right?

Well, not so fast.

Let’s answer the pressing question first. For most cruises, you need only be 18 years old to gamble in the ship’s casino. This includes the major cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Eighteen years old is a full three years younger than what’s allowed in casinos in the United States — including Las Vegas. So if you’re a young adult that really has the itch to gamble, play poker, or throw the dice, then a cruise ship is the only place we know of that allows you to do so legally at 18 years old.

That doesn’t mean you should set up a gambling junket on a cruise ship just yet. There are a few more things to know about cruise ship gambling.

Slot machines on a cruise
The casino isn’t open 24 hours a day like you’d find on land.

First, Royal Caribbean puts an age limit of 21 on casino gambling if you are taking an Alaskan cruise. So if you’re headed to the northwest United States, being under 21 will mean no gambling aboard the ship.

As well, gambling is not allowed until the ship is well away from shore due to local, land-based laws while in port. While the statutes will vary by location, don’t think you’ll just be able to hop aboard and start playing slots. It usually takes an hour or two of sailing before the ship is far enough from land to open the casino.

Finally, you should know that cruise ship casinos are well known for having poor payouts. With a captive audience aboard the ship and no other casino around, there isn’t much of an incentive for them to be loose on the payouts. Expect blackjack to pay 6-to-5 (compared to the more favorable 3-to-2 found on land) and low limits on odds bets for craps.