UK Government to Announce New Minimum Age for Lottery Games

British MPs are set to soon raise the minimum age for online lottery games to 18 as part of a wider gambling overhaul that is currently under works.

An announcement about the new lower limit for lottery gambling is expected to be made in the next few weeks, The Times reported Sunday.

The current minimum age for playing lottery games online is 16. This means that teenagers aged 16 and 17 can spend as much as £350 a week on online lottery games such as Fruity £500, Treasure Temple, and Bingo Millionaire. These and many more games are provided by the National Lottery, which is currently run by Camelot.

Senior sources in Whitehall told The Times that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, and the Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit, Munira Mirza, have taken personal interest in the matter.

As mentioned above, the new minimum age for online lottery products is part of a wider set of reforms that British MPs currently prepare to roll out in a bid to reduce young and vulnerable people’s exposure to gambling products and gambling-focused advertising content.

Sources told The Times that an ongoing review is “focused on the online betting industry and [seeks]

to address concerns around children, including advertising.”

Changes Come after 2019 Consultation

Plans to increase the minimum age to play National Lottery-offered scratchcards and instant win games online were first announced in the summer of 2019 by former Minister for Sport and Civil Society Mims Davis.

Minister David launched in mid-July 2019 a 12-week consultation on the minimum age for playing National Lottery games saying that the lower age limit could be increased to ensure that vulnerable young people are “rightly protected from the potential risks of gambling-related harm.”

With the current lower limit at 16, the National Lottery has access to a teenage market that commercial online gambling operators do not have.

The National Lottery’s current license is due to expire in 2023. As mentioned above, the UK’s national lottery operator is run by gambling operator Camelot Group. The UK Gambling Commission launched in late August the competition to award the fourth National Lottery license.

The new license will have a fixed 10-year term and the organization that receives it will be expected to “provide greater flexibility to maximise returns to good causes, hand in hand with ensuring safe and fair play.”

Since launched in 1994, the National Lottery has raised more than £41 billion for more than 500,000 good causes across the UK.

Pan-European lottery operator SAZKA Group has recently confirmed previously indicated intention to bid for the National Lottery license. The company submitted its completed application to participate in the first stage in the license bidding process and is understood to have begun building a UK team and local partnerships in order to craft a strategy for securing the 10-year contract for operating the National Lottery.

SAZKA already runs lotteries in the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus, among others.

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