Launching its review of the Gambling Act 2005 on 8 December 2020, the UK Government announced that, as widely expected, the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 from no later than October 2021. In its accompanying press release, the Government stated:
It has …. been announced today that the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 from October 2021.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said:
“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.
This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.
This builds upon our clear track record of introducing tough measures to protect people from the risk of gambling harm – banning the use of credit cards, launching tighter age verification checks and cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals.”
Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston said:
“We’re committed to protecting young people from gambling related harm which is why we are raising the minimum age for the National Lottery. Patterns of play have changed since its inception, with a shift towards online games, and this change will help make sure the National Lottery, although already low-risk, is not a gateway to problem gambling.”
Reacting to this announcement, the present National Lottery operator, Camelot, issued the following statement on the Government announcement on The National Lottery age of play:
A Camelot spokesperson said:
“We’ve said all along that we would fully support any decision made by the government to raise the minimum age to play. Now that a decision has been made to raise the age to 18 by October 2021, we’ll be doing everything we can to implement all of the changes that will be necessary as quickly as possible, while ensuring that we maintain the very high standards demanded of The National Lottery. We’ve already started this work in preparation and, subject to receiving the appropriate licence variations and waivers from the Gambling Commission, we’re aiming to complete all of the changes that are needed in our online channels by early April 2021 and, in our retail channel, over the course of the summer – well in advance of the change in law.”
The National Lottery is a vast and complex operation, with a network of 44,000 independently owned retailers across the UK and more than 8.5 million active registered players, making it Europe’s largest online lottery in terms of sales. With our operating licence requiring us to ensure that the minimum age to play appears on all physical materials, as well as in all online channels, the changeover will not happen overnight. This isn’t simply a case of sending new stickers to retailers or flicking an online switch.
In retail, for example, around 80 individual items need changing or removing – including fixed signage, permanent point of sale equipment, physical tickets and Scratchcards, and play slips. And online, more than 50 separate areas need addressing – including Games Rules and Procedures, online Player Guides, app alerts and notifications, and automated emails. On top of that, any COVID-19 restrictions will need to be taken into account to ensure that we implement the changes as safely and responsibly as possible.
The fourth National Lottery Competition (“4NLC”) was formally launched on 28 August 2020. You can read more about that and on subsequent 4NLC events in our separate website posting here.