UK mulls raising lottery sales age limit from 16 to 18 years


uk-national-lottery-age-limit-scratchcardsUK National Lottery operator Camelot could face a blow to its sales as parliamentarians consider raising the minimum age for lottery purchases.

On Tuesday, Mims Davies, Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), informed the House of Commons that the government will hold a consultation on whether to raise the minimum age for lottery purchases from its current 16 years to 18. The consultation will run until October 8.

Davies said the consultation, which will seek input from lottery operators, distributors, retailers as well as the general public, is mulling three possible outcomes: (a) maintaining the status quo, (b) raising the age limit to 18 for certain products, such as scratchcards and online instant win games, or (c) limiting all lottery products to customers aged 18 years or older.

Davies noted that lottery products were one of the “very few” gambling options available to individuals under the age of 18, despite the fact that “the age of 18 is widely recognized as an age one becomes an adult, gaining full citizenship rights and the responsibilities.”

Davies said her “initial view is based on the evidence reviewed so far” that a “split” system that would exclude under-18s from scratchcards and instant win online games—considered to be ‘riskier’ lottery products than traditional draw tickets—“could be the best approach.”

Even the government’s preferred option could mean a significant hit to Camelot’s sales. The company’s most recent annual report showed traditional lottery draw ticket sales on the decline, while scratchcards and online instant-win games rose by more than 10% year-on-year.

Putting on a brave face, Camelot issued a statement saying it had ‘no issue” with the government conducting its consultation and the company would be “happy to assist in any way we can to help inform the decision.”

Predictably, certain elements within UK society aren’t happy with the government’s preferred ‘split’ option. Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson said there was no need for a consultation since “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.”