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UK Government Could Increase National Lottery Age Limit To 18

Scratchcards

The UK Government is considering raising the age limit for playing National Lottery games.

Culture Minister Mims Davies announced a consultation on the issue in the House of Commons yesterday (July 16), the BBC reports. She explained that the consultation, which will run through to October this year, would consider three options.

They include: raising the age limit to 18 for National Lottery scratchcards and online instant-win games but not for draw-based games; retaining the current age limit; or increasing the age limit to 18 for all National Lottery games including draw-based.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Davies said: “The age of 18 is widely recognised as an age one becomes an adult, gaining full citizenship rights and the responsibilities. At present, all lotteries can be played from 16 – one of the very few age limits for gambling under-18 products.”

Hinting that the Government would prefer raising the age limit for only scratchcards and online instant-win games, Davies continued: “My initial view is based on the evidence reviewed so far, so it is that such a split could be the best approach.” She then added that “the risk of harm is slightly higher for instant-win games than it is for draw-based games such as Lotto” before stating she is “keen” to further investigate the issue.

Davies expects legislation on the age limit this autumn, ahead of the bidding process for the next National Lottery license in 2020.

But Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson slammed the consultation, saying: “There is absolutely no need for a consultation on the issue. We already have all the evidence we need. To gamble, you should be an adult, so the minimum age for all gambling products should be 18 – it’s as simple as that.”

Watson also spoke on the rising number of underage gamblers, saying: “There are 450,000 children gambling every week in our country. It is a number that has quadrupled in recent years. For many young people, scratchcards are a gateway to gambling from the age of 16. We don’t think that’s right, particularly when we are struggling with an epidemic of gambling addiction across the country.”

Camelot, the owner of the National Lottery, said it had “no issue” with the consultation but said it was “disappointed” that Davis had increased the prize and sales limit for society lotteries, non-commercial lotteries that are run for good causes.

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Minister Mims Davies first began campaigning for an increased age limit on scratchcards back in February this year, revealing that a potential ban prohibiting under-18s from purchasing scratchcards was being discussed in Whitehall.

Now, however, Davis seems to have expanded her campaign to also include instant-win games.

The news comes just days after we reported how the National Lottery continues to sell scratchcards even though most prizes have already been won.

Several investigations found that customers have almost a zero chance of winning the top prizes and that most of them are immediately given away, but customers are still being sold the scratchcards believing they have a chance.

Davies’ announcement also comes amid a crackdown on gambling. In May, the UK Gambling Commission introduced new age verification rules that required new users to immediately verify their account after registration rather than being given 72 hours beforehand as was previously done.

Meanwhile, several gambling operators agreed to a ban on gambling advertisements during live sports games and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) announced in February that it will ban gambling advertisements from appearing on child-friendly websites and ban operators from using people and celebrities who appear under 18 in their advertisements.

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