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National Lottery scratchcard minimum age could be increased to 18

Government also confirms move to increase society lotteries’ maximum draw prize

  • Plans to increase minimum age to play National Lottery scratchcards and instant win games
  • Government confirms move to increase society lotteries’ maximum draw prize from £400,000 to £500,000

The minimum age to play National Lottery scratchcards and online instant win games could be increased to 18 to protect vulnerable young people, Minister for Sport and Civil Society Mims Davies announced today.

The current age limit for all National Lottery games is 16, but the government will now consult on whether it should be raised to 18 for some or all National Lottery games and products.

The plans are to ensure that young people are rightly protected from the potential risks of gambling related harm, although these remain very low on all National Lottery games.

The Government also announces it will raise the society lotteries’ annual sales limit to £50 million, increasing the money they can raise for good causes, and the maximum per draw prize to £500,000.

The new limits, which have not been increased for a decade, come after a detailed consultation and will support society lotteries to grow, removing the need for lotteries to slow down their fundraising, and allow them to get rid of the costly bureaucracy designed to stop them breaching the current limits.

Minister for Sport and Civil Society Mims Davies said:

I am immensely proud of the exceptional role that the National Lottery has played in Britain over the past 25 years. We want to protect its special place and these changes strike the right balance to ensure that both the National Lottery and society lotteries can thrive.

The National Lottery raises vast sums for good causes, and society lotteries play a vital role in supporting local charities and grassroots organisations. These measures will ensure we create the best landscape so people across our communities can continue to benefit.

But we also need to make sure that the National Lottery is fair and safe. That is why we are looking to raise the minimum age for instant win games so children and young people are protected. We are open to all feedback on changes to this and all of the various lottery products.

It is important that society lotteries demonstrate the highest levels of transparency, and in addition to the above changes, the Gambling Commission plan to consult on measures to tighten the licensing framework for society lotteries, looking in particular at the information provided to players on how the proceeds of a lottery are used (including publishing breakdowns of where all money is spent), and the good causes that benefit.

Since the first National Lottery draw in 1994, over £40 billion has been raised for good causes. Society lotteries – such as those run by charities, the Health Lottery and People’s Postcode Lottery – raise around £300 million a year for good causes.

The individual draw limit for large society lotteries was last raised in 2009. The government’s decision to consult followed the sector’s calls for limits to be increased as they said the previous limits acted as a barrier to raising funds for good causes.

The current licence to run the National Lottery is due to expire in 2023 and the Gambling Commission is designing a tendering process for the next licence. The bidding process for the fourth National Lottery licence competition will formally launch in 2020 and the Government intends to ensure there is a clear position on the minimum age ahead of this.

Notes to editors

The society lotteries reform consultation ran from June – September 2018. The aim of the consultation was to consider options for making changes to the society lotteries framework to enable both the National Lottery and society lotteries to thrive, and consequently to increase the returns that the sector as a whole generates for good causes.

DCMS received over 1,600 responses to the consultation from a wide range of sectors, including members of the public, society lotteries, beneficiaries of society lottery funding, local authorities, the National Lottery sector (Camelot and distributors), beneficiaries of National Lottery funding, public bodies, retailers, and other organisations.

The age of 18 is widely recognised as the age at which one becomes an adult, gaining full citizenship rights and responsibilities. At present, the default minimum age limit for all types of lottery games is 16; the lotteries sector is currently one of several exceptions to the minimum age of 18 for accessing the majority of commercial gambling products.

The consultation on the minimum age for playing National Lottery games will last 12 weeks from 16 July 2019 until 08 October 2019.

Government also confirms move to increase society lotteries’ maximum draw prize

Government could ban 16 and 17-year-olds from buying scratchcards and lottery tickets, minister announces

Consultation launched on increasing minimum age for all National Lottery games from 16 to 18, but Mims Davies says her ‘initial view’ is hike should apply to instant-win games only

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Sixteen and seventeen year-olds look set to be banned from buying scratchcards and could be barred from taking part in the twice-weekly Lotto draws, a minister has announced.

Civil society minister Mims Davies launched a consultation on increasing the minimum age limit for all National Lottery games to 18 from 2020, to bring it in line with the generally recognised age of adulthood.

But she told MPs that her “initial view” was that it would be better to raise the age limit only for instant-win games like scratchcards, which presented a bigger risk of harm to young players.

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Ms Davies said she would consult with Lottery operator Camelot and retailers on the likely impact on their business before making a final decision on the age limit.

But Labour – backed by some Tory backbenchers – said she should act immediately.

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson said that scratchcards were a “gateway” for many teenagers to join the 450,000 children known to be gambling each week in the UK.

He told the minister: “There is absolutely no need for a consultation on this issue. 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.”

And former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: “There is no need for a consultation about the age limit. Frankly, I think we should just get on with it. There’s enough evidence out there.”

Ms Davies told the Commons said that the current minimum age of 16 for taking part in lotteries was one of very few limits to be set below the “widely recognised” threshold of 18 for taking on adult rights and responsibilities.

She said the consultation would consider the options of keeping the age limit at 16, imposing an outright ban on playing any National Lottery game below 18 or a “differentiated approach” that would increase the minimum age only for instant-win scratchcards and online games.

“My initial view based on the evidence reviewed so far, is that such a split could be the best approach,” she told MPs. “This takes into account that the risk of harm associated with playing the National Lottery is at the lowest of any form of gambling.

“But we do know the risk of harm is slightly higher for instant-win games than it is for draw-based games such as Lotto.

“Therefore, I am keen to seek further evidence in this area and hear what others think, given that the National Lottery matters so much to so many people.”

Mr Watson said: ” There are 450,000 children gambling every week in our country. It is a number that has quadrupled in recent years.

“For many young people, scratchcards are a gateway to gambling from the age of 16. We don’t think that’s right, particularly when we are struggling with an epidemic of gambling addiction across the country.”

Ms Davies also announced plans to increase from £400,000 to £500,000 the maximum prize in draws run by “society lotteries” for good causes like sports clubs, hospitals and charities.

The good-cause lotteries’ annual sales limit will also be increased to £50 million.

Ms Davies said she expected legislation on the lottery age-limit in the autumn, in order to have a clear position in place before the bidding process for the next National Lottery licence gets under way in 2020.

Camelot said it had “no issue” with the review of the age limit, but was “extremely disappointed” by the increase in prize and sales limits for society lotteries which operate on a national scale and compete with its products.

“This will have a further negative impact on returns to National Lottery good causes and society,” said a spokesperson.

“The National Lottery’s huge success in raising over £40 billion for good causes across the UK over the last 25 years has, in part, been because of the clear distinction between it and society lotteries. However, the rapid growth in recent years of synthetic national lotteries has eroded the ‘single-operator’ model on which The National Lottery is based and significantly blurred this distinction.”

1 /2 16 and 17-year-olds could be banned from buying lottery tickets

16 and 17-year-olds could be banned from buying lottery tickets

Consultation launched on increasing minimum age for all National Lottery games from 16 to 18, but Mims Davies says her ‘initial view’ is hike should apply to instant-win games only

16 and 17-year-olds could be banned from buying lottery tickets

The Government is consulting on an increase to 18 in the minimum age for playing all National Lottery games

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Consultation launched on increasing minimum age for all National Lottery games from 16 to 18, but Mims Davies says her 'initial view' is hike should apply to instant-win games only