In Texas, you must be at least 18 years old to purchase tickets for games run by the Texas Lottery. There is no exception to this age requirement, even with parental consent. The Texas Lottery operates under the authority of the Texas Legislature and all games are strictly regulated under state law.
Age Requirement for Texas Lottery Games
The Texas Lottery began operations in 1992 after Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing a state lottery. The Texas Legislature established the Texas Lottery Commission to oversee lottery operations and games. Under the Texas Government Code, Section 466.3091:
“A person may not purchase a ticket or a chance in a game of the lottery unless the person is 18 years of age or older.”
This statute sets the minimum age to participate in the Texas Lottery at 18 years old. Lottery retailers are prohibited from selling tickets to individuals under 18 years old. There are no exceptions for parental consent. The age restriction applies to all Texas Lottery games, including:
- Scratch-off tickets
- Draw games like Lotto Texas, Cash Five, Texas Two Step, All or Nothing, etc.
- Raffle games like the Texas Millionaire Raffle
- In-lane games like Progressive Jackpot Games played at lottery retailers
Any lottery games added in the future will also be subject to the 18-year age minimum. The Texas Lottery does not have plans to lower the required age to participate in lottery games in the future.
Penalties for Underage Lottery Play
There are penalties for both players and retailers who violate the age restrictions on Texas Lottery games:
- If a person under 18 years old purchases a lottery ticket, they may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
- If a retailer knowingly sells a lottery ticket to someone under 18 years old, they may also face misdemeanor charges and fines. The retailer could lose their ability to sell lottery products.
In practice, the Texas Lottery Commission focuses enforcement efforts on retailers who fail to verify age rather than underage players. Retailers must undergo age verification training. The lottery conducts secret shopper campaigns at retailers to check for compliance.
Proof of Age Required to Play Lottery
To play Texas Lottery games, you must be prepared to show proof of your age. Acceptable forms of ID include:
- Texas Driver’s License
- Texas Identification Card
- U.S. Passport
- U.S. Military ID Card
- Any other state, federal, or internationally-issued ID bearing date of birth and photo
Lottery retailers are required to verify your age before selling any lottery products. Some common signs you may see posted include:
- “We ID – No ID, No Play, No Exceptions”
- “If You Don’t Look 18, Be Prepared to Prove It”
Retailers must reject any players who cannot prove they meet the 18-year age minimum, even if they appear old enough. Do not take offense if asked for ID – the retailer could face penalties if they fail to verify your age.
Purchasing Lottery Gifts
You must also be 18 years or older to purchase lottery tickets as gifts for others in Texas, even if the recipient is over 18 years old. For example, a 17-year-old could not legally buy scratch-offs for an older family member’s birthday. The purchaser always has to meet the age restriction.
Age Limits in Other States
Most U.S. states require lottery players to be at least 18 years old. However, a few states have lower age limits:
|Lottery Age Requirement
Some states allow limited lottery participation at younger ages when a parent or guardian is present:
- Connecticut – 18 to play independently, 16 with adult supervision
- New York – 18 to play independently, 16 with adult supervision
- Ohio – 18 to play independently, 16 with adult supervision
- South Dakota – 18 to play independently, 16 with adult supervision
However, Texas does not allow any exceptions to the 18 year age minimum, even with parental consent.
History Behind Age Restriction
The 18-year age minimum serves an important purpose. Lottery games involve real money wagers, so age limits protect underage youth who may lack the maturity and judgment to play responsibly. Some key concerns include:
- Compulsive gambling – Younger players are more susceptible to developing unhealthy gambling habits and addiction. An 18-year restriction helps prevent early exposure.
- Financial responsibility – Lottery games can lead to significant losses. Underage youth have limited incomes and may not grasp the consequences of excessive spending on lottery games.
- Fraud or theft – Children or teens may resort to stealing money from parents or others to fund lottery play. Age restrictions help curb this potential issue.
- Budget responsibility – Money spent on the lottery means less money for necessities like food, rent, etc. Younger players may not make responsible budgeting choices.
While most adults can play the lottery responsibly for entertainment, underage youth simply lack the maturity and judgment needed to play safely. Texas maintains an 18-year age minimum as a sensible safeguard.
How Age Restriction Is Enforced
The Texas Lottery enforces the age requirement through:
- Retailer training on verifying age for every lottery purchase
- Undercover investigations to check retailer compliance
- Penalties for retailers who fail to verify age
- Public education campaigns on age restrictions
- Prosecution of some underage players as a deterrence
The Texas Lottery provides training materials, tip sheets, and signage to retailers to promote awareness of proper age verification. Approximately 16,000 retailers sell lottery products statewide, so ongoing training and monitoring helps maintain high compliance.
Retailer Verification Process
Retailers must verify proof of age for any lottery transactions. Steps include:
- Request valid photo ID from the player
- Check that the ID photo matches the player
- Verify the date of birth shows the player is 18+ years old
- Check any security features on the ID
- Make sure the ID is current and not expired
If the player cannot produce valid ID proving 18+ age, the retailer must refuse the sale. Retailers may not make any exceptions, even if the player appears clearly over 18 years old. Failing to check ID can put the retailer’s lottery license at risk.
Secret Shopper Operations
The Texas Lottery conducts undercover “secret shopper” inspections to check retailer compliance. An underage operative attempts to buy lottery tickets while investigators covertly monitor the transaction. Any retailers who sell to the underage operative face penalties up to license suspension or revocation.
Secret shopper operations provide an important enforcement mechanism and deterrence. In 2021, the Texas Lottery conducted over 8,100 secret shopper inspections. Only 63 illegal sales to underage operatives occurred, reflecting an impressive 99.2% compliance rate.
Fines and License Suspension
If a retailer illegally sells lottery tickets to an underage player, they may face civil penalties under lottery rules up to $1,000 per violation. They could also face criminal misdemeanor charges.
Repeat violations often result in lottery license suspension. For example, a recent case saw a retailer location fined $1,250 and given a 15-day suspension for 3 violations within 36 months. License revocation is possible for egregious violations.
Public Education Efforts
The Texas Lottery maintains an active public education program to promote awareness of age restrictions. Education efforts include:
- Point-of-sale materials reminding players of age rules
- Social media posts on the required age to play
- Community outreach booths at events
- School education programs on responsible play
- Education for parents on keeping lottery games away from minors
Ongoing education ensures age requirements remain common knowledge. While most adults already know the rules, education helps prevent accidental violations by new adult players.
Prosecuting Underage Players
While education is preferable, the Texas Lottery will prosecute underage players in serious cases as a deterrent. For example, a 17-year-old was recently fined $250 for purchasing over 60 scratch-off tickets using a fake ID.
Prosecution reminds underage players they could face consequences for willfully violating lottery rules. However, the Texas Lottery focuses enforcement mainly on retailers to prevent minors accessing lottery games in the first place.
Preventing Underage Lottery Play
Parents and guardians can also help prevent underage lottery play:
- Do not allow minors to play lottery games, even at home
- Keep lottery tickets locked away from minors
- Educate children early on the 18+ age restriction
- Watch for warning signs of problem gambling in teens
- Seek help if you suspect your child has a gambling problem
Retailers should maintain rigorous age verification on all lottery sales. Players should refuse to make “quick pick” selections for minors or purchase tickets on behalf of those under 18 years old.
Will Texas Ever Lower Lottery Age Rules?
There is no serious effort underway to lower the minimum age for lottery play in Texas. The 18-year requirement has proven effective and non-controversial. Key factors making change unlikely include:
- Preventing underage gambling remains a priority
- Younger teens lack the judgment to play responsibly
- Little public demand to lower the age minimum
- Retailers support strict age verification
- Legal concerns around younger gambling
With lottery education and enforcement systems well established, the Texas Legislature would require compelling reasons to revise current age restrictions. Given continued concerns around high-risk underage gambling, the 18-year age minimum will likely remain in place indefinitely.
The Texas Lottery requires all players to meet a minimum age of 18 years old to purchase tickets or claim prizes. State law prohibits sales of lottery games to those under 18, even with parental approval. Retailers must verify proof of age for all lottery transactions without exceptions.
Strict age verification and enforcement helps prevent underage gambling. While most adults play responsibly, lottery games require maturity and judgment younger teens lack. An 18-year age minimum sensibly balances enjoyment for adults while limiting risks of youth addiction and financial harm.
With strong public support and legislative backing, Texas’ age 18 requirement provides an effective safeguard. Players should expect retailers to rigidly enforce age restrictions on all lottery sales. Ultimately, the age limit promotes responsible lottery play and funding for key state programs.