National Lottery Considers Raising The Age Limit For Players To 18
Since the moment the National Lottery was introduced in 1994, the eligibility to play games has been that players must be 16-years-old or over. That is the same whether you want to get a ticket for the main draw, buy a scratch card or play one of the other games such as Euromillions. The age limit also applies to members of syndicates who want to club together to buy tickets for those that work or live together.
Yet Mims Davies, the Culture Minister, has said that the age limit could be raised to 18-years-old as part of a serious of changes that the government is thinking of introducing.
The changes would apply to all National Lottery games, but not necessarily online games and instant-win offerings from products like scratch cards that are offered by other companies. The Labour Party, meanwhile, believe that all gambling products should have a minimum age requirement of 18.
Why The Changes Are Being Considered
Speaking at the House of Commons, the Minister of State for Sport, Civil Society and Loneliness, which is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced that the shift to a minimum age of 18 was based around the fact that that’s when people get full citizenship rights and take on the associated responsibilities. She talked of how it’s accepted that the National Lottery is one of the lowest risk forms of gambling, but that the chances of associated harm increased when looking at instant-wins games as opposed to the Lotto.
The changes won’t take place immediately but rather the government will enter into a period of consultation on the issue. It is being done ahead of the awarding of the competition to have the licence to run the National Lottery, which is now in its 4th phase.
Part of the reason the consultation is taking place is outlined by the government as follows:
“instant win games such as scratchcards are making up an increased proportion of National Lottery sales”.
The Options Being Looked At
As always when it comes to the government and making decisions, nothing is ever simple. Certainly things should be a lot clearer in the mind of Labour’s Tom Watson, who has long been an opponent of gambling culture in the United Kingdom.
The Shadow Culture Secretary said:
“It’s our strong view, and I’m sure members across the House will agree, that we already have all the evidence we need. To gamble you should be an adult, so the minimum age for all gambling products should be 18 – it’s as simple as that”.
It’s not quite as simple as that in the eyes of the current government, however, with three options being consulted on at this stage. They are as follows:
- Option 1: Allowing the status quo to be retained, with the minimum age for National Lottery games of all shapes and sizes remaining at 16-years-old
- Option 2: Raising the minimum age for National Lottery instant-wins games, such as those played online and scratch cards, to 18-years-old
- Option 3: Raise the minimum age for every type of National Lottery game, including Euromillions and Lotto to 18 years of age
The government’s consultation allows anyone to get in touch with them and raise points regarding whether or not the age limit should be raised for some, all or none of the National Lottery games.
What About Other Lotteries?
Whilst the National Lottery is unquestionably the most famous and respected lottery that people can play in the United Kingdom, it’s not the only one on offer. Non-commercial lotteries are regularly run on behalf of charities and to raise money for good causes. It is these extra lotteries that Tom Watson believes should also have the minimum age requirement lifted to 18-years-old, rather than shifting the age for the National Lottery products but allowing them to remain the same.
Ms Davies told the Commons that these society games may well see the prize draw increase. It is currently limited to around £400,000, but may well shift to £500,000. This will also depend on the outcome of the consultation, which Mr Watson said there was ‘absolutely no need’ to be conducting in the first place. Having lead the campaign against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and the maximum stake applicable to them, Watson will no doubt feel well placed to also lead the charge in criticism of the government on this issue.
Camelot Has ‘No Issue’ With The Consultation
Camelot has been running the National Lottery since its 1994 launch, having won the licence to be in charge of it its launch year and then again in 2001 and 2009. Between 1999 and 2013 the National Lottery was regulated by the National Lottery Commission, but that was abolished and its responsibilities were transferred over to the Gambling Commission instead. Given both the way the Lottery has progressed and improved since 1994 and the relatively few issues that it has had in comparison to other sectors in the gambling industry, it’s no real surprised that Camelot are relatively relaxed about their ability to gain the licence for a 4th time.
This year sees the National Lottery celebrate its 25th birthday, during which time it has raised more than £40 billion for good causes. The current licence will expire in 2023, which is why the government has decided to start its consultation period now and give itself plenty of time to ensure that the framework in place is one that is ‘fit for the future’. Camelot has changed the landscape for what can be considered to be a National Lottery game since the 3rd licence’s awarding, seeing the traditional Lotto game added to with other draw-based games and a shift to mobile gaming. It is this shift that has caused the government to ask whether the age limits in place are appropriate, given the need to ‘protect players’ where possible.