National Lottery Age Could be Raised Following Ministerial Outcry

Culture minister Mims Davies may increase the legal age for buying a National Lottery scratchcard to 18.

Mims Davies National Lottery changes

Culture minister Mims Davies wants to gauge interest in raising the National Lottery age to 18. (Image: Flickr/Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

Addressing the House of Commons on July 16, Davies said that raising the current age limit from 16 would help protect children.

Following a recent report by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), one in 20 children aged between 11 and 16 have played the National Lottery. Aiming to tackle this issue, Davies has launched a consultation.

National Lottery Splits House

The plan sparked backlash from certain ministers who believe action should be taken now but the Conservative MP wants to take a measured approach.

In her opinion, a split strategy would be best. Practically, this would keep draw-based games, such as the National Lottery, open to players aged 16+.

However, instant win games, such as offline and online scratchcards, would require someone to be 18 or older.

While the minimum age for all for all National Lottery games could be raised, Davies believes a discussion is needed.

I am keen to seek further evidence in this area and hear what others think given that the National Lottery matters so much to so many people, including hearing from the operators, distributors and retailers about any potential impacts and benefits of the change,” she told the House of Commons.

In light of this, those inside and outside of the gaming industry will have the chance to share their views.

Lottery Rebounds but Issues Remain

Over the last two years, the National Lottery has undergone a number of changes. With revenue on the slide, the UKGC brought in James Mackay to reform the service in 2017.

By November 2018, National Lottery operator Camelot had introduced a new payout structure. Making it statistically easier to win £1 million, the changes helped to boost sales by £225 million during the latest account period.

However, while revenue has improved, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the National Lottery. In August 2018 it was hit with a £1.15 million fine for historic governance failures.

Following concerns that certain aspects of the lottery weren’t being handled correctly, including customer care, the UKGC took action. The investigation and subsequent fine led to Camelot introducing an Operational Excellence Programme (OEP).

Even with new procedures in place to stop underage gambling, ministers are still pushing for change. Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson told the House of Commons that a consultation isn’t needed as children shouldn’t be allowed to gamble at all.

While it’s not yet clear what changes will be made, the current feeling suggests that at least some parts of the National Lottery will soon be restricted to those age 18+.

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