Camelot to Raise UK National Retail Lottery Age to 18 Six Months Ahead of Schedule

  • Camelot is raising the National Lottery minimum age requirement from 16 to 18 starting April 22
  • This change will affect about 3,300 online users and about 54,000 retail customers
  • The reason for the change is to further protect young people from gambling
  • Camelot’s license to operate the National Lottery ends in 2023
  • Numerous parties have interest in the license, most recently CVC Capital Partners-backed Sisal
UK National Lottery sign
The minimum age to buy UK National Lottery products will increase from 16 to 18 beginning on April 22. [Image:]

Enacting the necessary changes

UK National Lottery operator Camelot will no longer allow players who are younger than 18 to purchase lottery tickets or scratch cards either online or through retail outlets starting April 22. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had ordered Camelot to increase the minimum age from 16 years old by April 2021 for online sales and October 2021 for retail sales.

the change will not have much of a negative impact on retailers

About 3,300 existing online users will be too young to continue using the platform when the change comes into place. Approximately 54,000 retail players who are currently 16 or 17 will also be affected. This retail demographic represents only about 0.3% of the 14 million regular players of the National Lottery. With about 44,000 retail stores selling these products, the change will not have much of a negative impact on retailers.

Any online users who will no longer be old enough when these restrictions take effect have received an email about the matter. The Lottery’s website also provides information about this upcoming change.

Protecting young people

The transition in the retail space started last month. Camelot sent point of sale material to its retail partners to inform consumers about the changing restrictions. Speaking about the upcoming age limit increase, a Camelot spokesperson said: “It’s worth remembering that the new 18+ age to play rule will bring National Lottery products in line with the purchase of other age-restricted products such as tobacco and alcohol.”

The DCMS officially ordered the change in the minimum age to participate in the National Lottery back in December 2020. This was around the same time that the UK government’s review into the 2005 Gambling Act began.

The reasoning for the change was to bring the minimum age in line with other gambling products amid a growing trend in young people participating in the lottery and instant win games online. The government does not want UK National Lottery products to act as a gateway into gambling for young people.

A competitive bidding process

Camelot has been the only operator of the National Lottery since the offering started in 1994. Its current license expires in 2023; Camelot will seek renewal, competing against a number of other parties. The UK Gambling Commission will recommend its preferred recipient of the National Lottery license to the government by September 2021.

Some lottery operators that have shown interest in bidding for the ten-year license include Czech-based Sazka Group and the Indian lottery operator Sugal & Damani. Sazka Group is working alongside private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The latest entrant into the race is Sisal, the operator of the biggest lottery in Italy. CVC Capital Partners is backing this bid, which will be in collaboration with Barnardo’s. The children’s charity will provide advice about the best way to raise funds for good causes across the UK. In addition to operating the SuperEnalotto in Italy, Sisal also has won contracts in Morocco and Turkey in the past few years.

Camelot faced allegations recently from two MPs for allegedly attempting to manipulate the bidding process. MPs Carolyn Harris and Richard Holden, both members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling-Related Harm, expressed concerns in March about Camelot. They called upon the UKGC to investigate the operator for allegedly claiming credit for Lottery contributions to various good causes.

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