UK National Lottery raises minimum age for tickets to 18 to tackle problem gambling


Effective Oct. 1


he UK government is introducing a new measure in an effort to tackle problem gambling: under-18s are banned from being able to buy National Lottery tickets or scratchcards from Oct. 1 onwards.

Up until now, children were able to buy lottery tickets in shops, a loophole now closing as part of a harmful gambling crackdown. This is expected to stop minors from getting hooked on harder forms of gambling, as the minimum age rises from 16 to 18.

The measure follows an earlier ban on people aged under 18 from online gambling, introduced in April. However, until now, those aged 16 and 17 were still able to buy both lottery tickets and scratchcards in physical stores.

The newly introduced ban will apply to Lotto, Set For Life and EuroMillions tickets sold by the National Lottery, reports Mirror. Nigel Huddleston, minister for sport, tourism and heritage, said the restriction will help ensure that lottery is not a “gateway to problem gambling,” in particular in light of online gaming’s growing importance.

A cross-party group of MPs had been campaigning to prevent vulnerable children aged 16 and 17 from getting into gambling, citing concerns that lottery tickets and online games could lead to problem gambling later in life.

“Britain is the only country in the world that allows children to gamble,” campaigner Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, previously told the cited news source. “The loophole that lets under-18s buy lottery tickets has been exploited to peddle rapid instant win games to children, which act as a gateway to harder forms of gambling.”

Lottery operator Camelot did not oppose the change, with boss Nigel Railton saying: “For 25 years the age has been 16, so it is probably a good time to look at it.” A spokesperson for the company further stated that Camelot will be doing everything it can “to implement all of the changes that will be necessary” as quickly as possible.

The under-18s ban on buying lottery tickets is far from being the only measure being taken by the UK government to prevent problem gambling. A gaming review was launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) in December 2020, in a revision of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The review is set to determine gambling legislation fit for the digital and revise gambling-related harms and addiction. The government’s policy document outlining future legislation is due to come out at the end of 2021 or early in 2022, and will then be followed by a three-month consultation period before the bill goes to Parliament.

In late September, local media started reporting that the UK government was considering a ban on foreign firms from advertising in shirts and pitchside hoardings on both the English and Scottish leagues.

It is reportedly also considering taking aim the “white label” system by which overseas companies strike deals with teams, and a ban extended to UK-based firms could also be potentially introduced. The English Football League expressed concern about the ban’s potential impact on teams’ finances.

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