The National Lottery in the UK may raise its minimum age limit after a spotlight was shone on the young gambling industry.
Announced by the UK government, the increase of two years would aim to “protect vulnerable people”.
However, this would only come into effect in the online market.
Culture Minister Mims Davies set out new plans aimed at tackling gambling addiction problems. Currently, those 16 and over can purchase National Lottery tickets both instore and online, as well as scratchcards.
Davies suggests that this age would be increased in line with the minimum legal age for gambling, 18. However, tickets for the TV draw would still remain the same.
The proposal follows frequent talks on underage gambling and how children are drawn to the pastime, with some parallels drawn with loot boxes in gaming.
The consultation has caused a fierce row within the government’s own party, the Conservatives.
Ex-party leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “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.”
According to the Gambling Commission, almost one in 20 children aged between the ages of 11 and 16 plays the National Lottery. Additionally, almost 65,000 16-year-olds either play or buy scratchcards.
Speaking to MPs, Mims Davies said she recognized the rights and responsibilities of an adult, but the National Lottery was one of the very few age limits for gambling under-18 products.
She added that she is “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.”
Lottery up for tender
As the new National Lottery franchise comes up for tender in 2023, the current operator Camelot is watching the news carefully. It could mount a legal challenge if forced to change. The government still allows society lotteries to offer big prizes, such as that of the Health Lottery.
A spokeswoman said they would be “extremely disappointed” with this change in rules. However, she went on to say that “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.”