London, England - The government has recently announced plans of raising the minimum age requirement for playing National Lottery games from 16 to 18. Minister for Sport and Civil Society Mims Davies spoke in the House of Commons, announcing a consultation on the issue and saying:
“The age of 18 is widely recognised as an age one becomes an adult, gaining full citizenship rights and responsibilities. At present, all lotteries can be played from 16--one of the very few age limits for gambling under-18 products.”
Davies said the consultation will consider increasing the minimum age requirement only for online games and instant-win scratch cards. She said this could be the best approach, although some parties are arguing that minimum age should be raised for all gambling products.
Davies further said it is best to raise the minimum age for scratch cards and online games because although the risk of harm from playing the National Lottery is deemed the lowest of any form of gambling, there is a slightly higher risk for instant-win games than it is for draw-based games like Lotto. If the consultation results in increasing the age limit for all lottery games, then games like EuroMillions will be included.
Jane Park, Britain’s youngest EuroMillions winner, has reportedly said her life would have been better if she had not become a millionaire at 17. Her experience raised questions on whether it was wise to have allowed her to win £1 million at the age of 17. Furthermore, addiction charity GambleAware says one in eight children aged 11 to 15 are already gambling regularly, and about 30,000 may already have gambling problems.
Labour shadow culture secretary Tom Watson argues that there’s no need for a consultation, and that the minimum age should be raised for all forms of gambling. Watson says: “It’s our strong view, and I’m sure members across the House will agree, that 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.”
Davies, however, says she wants to “seek further evidence in this area and hear what others think, given that the National Lottery matters so much to so many people, including hearing from the operators, distributors and retailers about any potential impacts and benefits of the change.” She further 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 government also confirmed that along with the possible increase in minimum age requirement, there’s also a move to increase the maximum draw prize of society lotteries from £400,000 to £500,000. “These measures will ensure we create the best landscape so people across our communities can continue to benefit,” Davies said.
The consultations will last from July 16 to October 8, 2019.