The minimum age requirement to play the National Lottery will rise from 16 to 18 next year.
The new age restriction was announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) who also confirmed that the restriction would come into effect from October 2021, preventing those under the age of 18 from playing the National Lottery.
In addition, the online sales of lottery tickets to people under the age of 18 will be stopped in April 2021, with Nigel Huddleston, the Minister for sport, tourism, and heritage, suggesting that the new restriction will help protect young people from developing gambling-related harm.
He said: “We’re committed to protecting young people from gambling-related harm which is why we are raising the minimum age for the National Lottery.
“Patterns of play have emerged since its inception, with a shift towards online games, and this change will help make sure the National Lottery, although already low-risk, is not a gateway to problem gambling.”
A spokesperson for National Lottery operator Camelon said the company fully supports the decision to increase the minimum age requirement and has confirmed that Camelot will immediately begin working to implement all necessary changes to comply with the new rule.
They told the Evening Standard: “Now that a decision has been made to raise the age to 18 by October 2021, we’ll be doing everything we can to implement all of the changes that will be necessary as quickly as possible, while ensuring that we maintain the very high standards demanded of the National Lotter.
“We’ve already started this work in preparation and, subject to receiving the appropriate license variations and waivers from the Gambling Commission, we’re aiming to complete all of the changes that are needed in our online channels by early April 2021 and, in our retail channel, over the course of the summer – well in advance of the change in law.”
The confirmation of an increase in the minimum age required to play the National Lottery comes on the same day the UK Government has launched its review of the Gambling Act 2005 with the intention to ensure that gambling laws are fit for the modern-day digital age.
The Gambling Act 2005 Review Has Officially Launched
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden launched the review today (December 8) beginning with a call for evidence which will run for 16 weeks to March 31, 2021. As we reported last week, the anticipated review will look into limiting online gambling stakes, potentially banning sport sponsorships, and implementing additional mandatory affordability checks.
It’s also been reported that ministers will look into protections for online gamblers regarding gambling advertising and promotions, and that the review will consider evidence on VIP schemes and programmes.
The Guardian reports that ministers will also consider giving the UK Gambling Commission, the country’s regulator for all gambling, additional funding. They will also consider giving the Commission new powers to address the unregulated overseas market and to penalise operators who fail to protect vulnerable people or comply with rules.
In a statement addressing the current state of gambling law in the UK, Dowden said: “Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high-street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.
“This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely. This builds upon our clear track record of introducing tough measures to protect people from the risk of gambling harm – banning the use of credit cards, launching tighter age verification checks and cutting the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals.”
What They Say
Michael Dugher, the Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), praised the launch of the Government’s review and praised its decision to increase the age limit for playing the National Lottery.
He said: “I hope ministers will focus in with laser-like precision on problem gamblers and those at risk. The Government must ensure that any changes do not drive people to the unregulated black market online, where there aren’t any safeguards to protect vulnerable people.”
He also urged the UK Government to take into account the gambling industry’s “huge economic contribution” to the UK Government, an industry which Dugher emphasises employs more than 100,000 people.
“Millions of people enjoy an occasional flutter on sports, on bingo, on the Lottery, in casinos and online,” he said. “I hope that everyone has their say in the review – including millions of customers who enjoy betting safely, as well as the hardworking men and women employed in the industry.”
Carolyn Harris, Labor MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm, also praised the launch of the review, calling it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform the online gambling industry”.
Addressing the exponential growth of the gambling industry over the last few years, Harris added: “It has evolved from the traditional betting I grew up with to a global corporate entity which extracts vast profit from people in this country. Our regulatory system has not evolved with it, and the excesses of the industry are clear for all to see.”
The much-anticipated review of the Gambling Act 2005 comes as both the UK Gambling Commission and the BGC work to raise standards across the gambling industry. Over the last year, the two organisations have managed to implement new rules and restrictions designed to protect players and prevent gambling-related harm.
As mentioned, these rule changes include a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling, releasing a new code of conduct on the design of video slots, implementing a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertisements during televised sports, and launching new restrictions over how VIP programmes are run.