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National Lottery minimum age to rise to 18

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Lotto age limit will go up from 16 to 18 from next October as part of a crackdown on gambling.

The government is working with the Gambling Commission and Camelot to roll out the new age limit across the National Lottery products as quickly as possible and to ensure that it is in place by October. Under current plans, online sales to 16 and 17 year olds will stop in April 2021.

Since it began in 1994 the National Lottery’s games portfolio has changed significantly. There has been a growing trend towards online play and instant win games like scratchcards. From October 2021 it will be illegal to sell all National Lottery products to under 18s.

The government has launched a ‘major and wide-ranging review’ of the gambling sector. The current legislation, established in 2005, was ‘an analogue law in a digital age’, the government said.

New rules could also be introduced that would limit online stakes and set spending limits, ban betting firms from sponsoring football teams, and overhaul gambling advertising.

Online restrictions, marketing, and the powers of the Gambling Commission will be looked at as part of a call for evidence, to examine in detail how gambling has changed over the past 15 years.

Protections for online gamblers such as stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers, and whether extra protections for young adults are needed will all be explored.

The findings will be used to inform any changes to the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure customer protection is at the centre of the regulations.

The review will also look at evidence on the action customers can take where they feel operators have breached social responsibility requirements. These might include intervening to protect customers showing clear signs of problem gambling, and how to ensure children and young people are kept safe from gambling-related harm.

Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, 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.”

The review follows a range of measures recently introduced by the government to protect consumers from the risk of gambling-related harm.

These include cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling, banning gambling using credit cards and expanding gambling support.

In September the government launched a call for evidence to explore young people’s experiences of loot boxes in video games.

The review of the Gambling Act 2005 will also consider the Gambling Commission’s powers and resources to ensure it can keep pace with the licensed sector and tackle the black market.

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