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National Lottery age limit could rise from 16 to 18 in bid to cut gambling addiction

  • 16 Jul 2019, 13:39
  • Updated : 17 Jul 2019, 9:40

THE National Lottery age limit could rise from 16 to cut gambling addiction, the government has announced.

The minimum age to play National Lottery scratchcards and online win games could be increased to 18 to protect vulnerable young people, Culture Minister Mims Davies said yesterday.

But she sparked a fierce row after insisting the age limit for the traditional TV draw could still remain at 16.

The minimum legal age for gambling is typically 18 but the National Lottery is an exception.

Tories accused the Government of buckling under the threat of a legal challenge from Lottery operator Camelot.

One blasted: “It’s a fudge – simple as that.”

Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith stormed: “There is no need for consultation about the age limit. Frankly I think we should just get on with it. There’s enough evidence out there.”

Gambling is now more popular among children than skateboarding and campaigners believe an age limit of 16 entices young people into a habit of betting.

Britain’s youngest ever EuroMillions winner, Jane Park, has previously raised doubts about whether she should have been allowed to scoop £1million aged just 17 – claiming her life would have been ’10 times better’ had she not become a millionaire at such a young age.

She has since splashed out on cars, holidays and plastic surgery and become a household name after appearing on national TV – but claims the cash has made her miserable.

There are also concerns the current age limit makes it easier for even younger kids to buy Lotto tickets and scratchcards.

Gamble Aware, the addiction charity, says one in eight children aged between 11 and 15 years old are gambling regularly, and as many as 30,000 may be problem gamblers.

KIDS GAMBLING

About half of adults buy at least one National Lottery ticket or scratchcard each year, including around 65,000 16-year-olds.

The Gambling Commission says almost one in 20 children aged between the ages of 11 and 16 plays the National Lottery.

Ms Davies told MPs: “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.

“So in addition to the option to raise the minimum age to 18 for all National Lottery games and retaining the current limit of 16, I’m also seeking views on a differentiated approach that would increase the minimum age of instant win games only – this includes scratchcards and online instant win games.”

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said in his and the Labour Party’s view there was “absolutely no need” for a consultation on the age limit.

To gamble you should be an adult

He said: “It’s our strong view, and I’m sure members across the House will agree, that 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.”

Any move to raise the age limit on National Lottery sales before 2023 could leave the government open to a legal challenge from Camelot, which runs the National Lottery.

This is because it changes the nature of the original contact that was agreed.

A spokeswoman for National Lottery operator Camelot said: “We have no issue with a Government review of the age limit for buying National Lottery products and are happy to assist in any way we can to help inform the decision.”

But it said it was “extremely disappointed” with separate Government plans to allow society lotteries such as the Health Lottery to offer big prizes.

THE National Lottery age limit could rise from 16 to cut gambling addiction, the government has announced. Culture minister Mims Davies said the government was launching a consultation on increasing the age limit. ]]>