Inconsistent age limits
Per a report, a loophole allows children as young as 16 years old to gamble online through the UK National Lottery. There are concerns that this will lead to people developing gambling problems from an early age.
According to the report, 16 and 17 year olds spent a total of £47m ($59.4m) in 2017/2018 on National Lottery games. Two-thirds of this sum was on instant win and scratch card online games such as Treasure Temple, Fruity £500s, and Bingo Millionaire.
those who are at least 16 can legally play National Lottery games
Under United Kingdom law, gambling is usually restricted to those who are at least 18 years old, but those who are at least 16 can legally play National Lottery games. Therefore, the operator of the National Lottery, Camelot, has access to this teenage market.
In an attempt to address the issue of teenagers being able to play these National Lottery games, the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on gambling related harm sent a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
This letter calls for the minimum age to play lottery games to be increased to 18 years old. Labour MP and member of the APPG Carolyn Harris said: “The lottery is clearly competing with mainstream gambling companies, but they have the advantage of being able to target children.”
It’s surprising…that any gaming platform should have a lower age limit than any other.”
Speaking to the Sunday Times, England’s children’s commissioner Anne Longfield said: “It’s surprising, given the large, worrying and well-established numbers of children who problem gamble, that any gaming platform should have a lower age limit than any other.”
Camelot did respond to these concerns, saying that the minimum age for playing these games should be reviewed at the time of the next license period. The current age limit has been in place for over 25 years.
Problem gambling in youths
Accusations have been levied against the National Lottery that younger people will develop gambling problems as a result of having access to these games.
Gambling regulators are looking at ways to protect underage people from gambling harm as much as possible via measures like strict advertising controls.