16 and 17-year-olds facing ban on buying Lotto tickets
UNDER-18s face a ban on playing the National Lottery as ministers launch a new campaign against problem gambling.
Culture minister Tracey Crouch is to review the current age limit of 16 for entering lottery draws and buying scratchcards.
The news follows this week’s announcement that the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals is to be slashed from £100 to £2. Lottery operator Camelot supports a minimumage review – but any change is at least five years away because its licence does not come up for renewal until 2023.
Fears have been voiced ever since the Lottery began 20 years ago that it can act as a gambling ‘gateway’ for young people.
Teenagers cannot bet on horses or enter casinos until they are 18, but can play the National Lottery and buy scratchcards at 16.
Britain’s youngest EuroMillions winner, Jane Park, believes she should not have been allowed to win £1million aged just 17, saying her life would have ‘ten times better’ if she had not.
Campaigners are particularly worried about a the rise in popularity of scratchcards among children and Camelot has been criticised for making them appealing to a younger audience with board-game themes such as Mouse Trap and Monopoly. A 2011 survey found that 7 per cent of children aged 11-15 had spent their own money on a scratchcard in the previous week.
Following this week’s announcement of a drastic stake reduction on betting shop gambling machines, Miss Crouch said: ‘We will also be considering the issue of 16-year-olds playing National Lottery products as part of the next licence competition.
‘We will aim to gather evidence on this issue in order to consider it fully in time.
‘I also intend the change in the law to communicate our determina- tion to achieve, in partnership with the industry, a culture of responsible gambling.
She said in the foreword to a report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport: ‘I want to be very clear that a stake reduction on B2 gaming machines [fixedodds terminals] should not be a signal to the wider industry to take its foot off the pedal on this issue.
‘We want to use this opportunity to see the industry redouble its efforts to promote responsible gambling.’
Jane Park, who won her EuroMillions jackpot in 2013, says she regrets going public with her success and would never take part in a lottery draw again.
One of her first purchases was a breast augmentation and she also travelled to Turkey for a £5,000 ‘Brazilian bum lift’ that ended up with her being rushed to hospital with suspected sepsis.
She says that at one point she considered taking legal action against Camelot over the win, claiming her life would have been ‘ten times better’ had she not become a millionaire at such a young age.
Last night a spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: ‘We welcome the government’s decision to consider increasing the age for playing the national lottery to 18, as younger people are more susceptible to developing problems with gambling.’
A Camelot spokesman said the firm ‘always sought to raise as much money as possible for good causes in a socially-responsible way.
‘We therefore think that a review of the age limit for buying National Lottery products, as part of the next licence competition process, is appropriate and we look forward to actively participating.’
‘Younger people are more susceptible’