The National Lottery in the UK has announced that they might raise the minimum age limit after a spotlight was shone on the young gambling industry.
At the moment the minimum age limit to buy scratchcards is sixteen, but this might not be the case in a few months time and sixteen and seventeen-year-olds could see themselves banned from buying scratchcards. They also might see themselves barred from taking part in the twice-weekly UK Lottery draws, a minister has announced.
Mims Davies, Civil society minister, recently launched a consultation on increasing the minimum age limit for all National Lottery games to 18 from 2020.
As the UK is the only country with such a young minimum age limit, they aim to bring it in line with the generally recognised age of adulthood.
She did, however, say that her "initial view" was that it would be better to raise the age limit only for instant-win games like scratchcards, as purchasing scatchcards presented a bigger risk of harm to young players.
"My initial view based on the evidence reviewed so far is that such a split could be the best approach," she told MPs. "This takes into account that the risk of harm associated with playing the National Lottery is at the lowest of any form of gambling.
She went on to say that she would be speaking to Lottery operator Camelot and retailers on the likely impact on their business before making a final decision on the age limit.
Labour agreed with her and said she should act immediately.
Tom Watson, Shadow culture secretary said that scratchcards were a "gateway" for many teenagers to join the 450,000 that are gambling each week in the UK.
He told the minister: "There is absolutely no need for a consultation on this issue. 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."
Duncan Smith agreed and said: "There is no need for a consultation about the age limit. Frankly, I think we should just get on with it. There's enough evidence out there."
"But we do know the risk of harm is slightly higher for instant-win games than it is for draw-based games such as Lotto.
"Therefore, I am keen to seek further evidence in this area and hear what others think, given that the National Lottery matters so much to so many people."
Prizes may increase
Ms Davies also announced that there are plans to increase prizes from £400,000 to £500,000 in draws run by "society lotteries" for good causes like sports clubs, hospitals and charities. The good-cause lotteries’ annual sales limit will also be increased to £50 million.
As the next bidding process for the next National Lottery licence takes place in 2020, Ms Davies said she expected that legislation on the age-limit should be finalised by autumn.
Camelot said it had "no issue" with the review of the age limit, but was "extremely disappointed" by the increase in prize and sales limits for society lotteries which operate on a national scale and compete with its products.
"This will have a further negative impact on returns to National Lottery good causes and society," said a spokesperson.
"The National Lottery’s huge success in raising over £40 billion for good causes across the UK over the last 25 years has, in part, been because of the clear distinction between it and society lotteries. However, the rapid growth in recent years of synthetic national lotteries has eroded the ‘single-operator’ model on which The National Lottery is based and significantly blurred this distinction."
Youngest UK Lottery Winner
Callie Rogers still holds the title as the UK’s youngest lottery winner when she won £1.9 million in 2003.
Unfortunately, despite receiving financial advice, she spent her winnings on frivolous things. For her initial shopping spree, she spent:
- £11,500 on two breast augmentation surgeries
- £85,000 on luxury sports cars
- £250,000 on cocaine
- £300,000 on clothes
Coming from a broken family and trying to make ends meet with a £3.60/hour checkout job at such a young age, winning such a huge sum of money ended up being too much for the young lottery winner.
Her new lifestyle eventually took its toll on her, especially after she gave birth to her son Kian in 2005.
The pressures of being a mother combined with her unhealthy lifestyle eventually caught up with her. She even attempted suicide, but thankfully her family found her and took her to the hospital in time.
Jane Park won £1 million on the first EuroMillions ticket she ever bought. Just like Callie, she too has not been able to deal with her lottery winnings wisely.
Now in her 20’s, Jane often ends up in the tabloids for all the wrong reasons.
If you are planning to register to play online, please remember that individuals may not purchase entries or claim prize monies under the age of 18. Anyone over the age of eighteen is more than welcome to buy scratchcards online at PlayUKLottery.com.
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