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UK Lottery Camelot raises minimum age from 16 for tickets to 18 to tackle problem gambling

As of October 1st, the UK Government has officially banned children under 18 years of age from playing the National Lottery or purchasing scratch cards. The change has been made as part of the authorities’ decision to increase the minimum age for participation in games of the National Lottery from 16 to 18.

In the UK, children under 18 have been suspended from accessing online gambling since April, but the ones aged 16 or over have still been able to purchase scratch cards and lottery tickets in brick-and-mortar betting shops. Now, the restrictions apply to Lotto, EuroMillions and Set For Life tickets that are being sold by the UK National Lottery.

The new regulatory regime follows the launch of the Government’s comprehensive review of the UK gambling laws that has been aimed at making the country’s legislation more suitable to regulate the constantly developing sector and to provide children and more vulnerable people with better protection against gambling-related harm.

The Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Nigel Huddleston, explained that the new restrictions will help the authorities make sure that lottery is not what he called a “gateway to problem gambling”, especially considering the rapid growth in online gambling.

A report in the House of Lords last month revealed many of the 55,000 ­children with a gambling problem began by playing the Lottery. Lottery operator Camelot boss Nigel Railton said: “For 25 years the age has been 16 so it is probably a good time to look at it.”

According to Mr Matt Zarb-Cousin, the director of the Clean Up Gambling group, the UK was the only country on a global scale that allowed children to gamble. He further noted there was a legislative loophole that allows individuals under the legal age of 18 to buy lottery tickets and has been used by gambling operators to exploit more vulnerable customers.

Mr Zarb-Cousin noted that some of the games that have been accessible to younger players have more in common with online casinos than with lotteries. That was exactly why the campaigners have been calling for the UK Government to raise the minimum age of purchasing National Lottery products to 18 as soon as possible.

Camelot, the company that currently operates the National Lottery has not expressed opposition to the restrictions. A spokesperson for the company commented that the operator would be doing everything in its capabilities in order to implement all the required changes as quickly as possible and ensure that Camelot met the standards demanded of the National Lottery.

For some time, the UK gambling sector has been targeted by stricter regulations aimed at making the industry safer for users. Gambling companies have become the subject of more and more rules that the Government hopes to guarantee to tackle gambling-related harm and protect more vulnerable customers who could be more seriously affected by the darker side of gambling.