Consultation recently launched to discuss increasing the minimum age for all National Lottery games from 16 to 18. Mims Davies has said that her ‘initial view’ is that the increase should only be applied to instant-win games.
Civil society minister Mims Davies has launched a consultation on increasing the minimum age limit for all National Lottery games to 18 from 2020. This would bring it in line with the generally recognised age of adulthood.
But she told MPs that her “initial view” was that the age limit should be raised on instant-win games like scratchcards, suggesting that they presented a bigger risk of harm to young players and gateways to online gaming such as online slots and roulette.
Although Labour has said Ms Davies should act immediately, she has said she will consult with Lottery operator Camelot and retailers. The change in age limit will likely impact their business, so Davies plans to discuss with them before making a final decision.
Why the discussion?
Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, has called scratchcards a “gateway” for many teenagers. He suggested that scratchcards are a way for young people to join the 450,000 children known to be gambling each week in the UK. Recent studies have already shown too many young people addicted to gambling.
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.”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith agreed, saying: “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.”
Ms Davies highlighted that the minimum age of 16 for taking part in lotteries is one of the very few limits to be set below the “widely recognised” threshold of adulthood- 18.
The consultation will consider three main options; keeping the age limit at 16, imposing an outright ban on playing any National Lottery game below 18 or increasing the minimum age only for instant-win scratchcards and online games.
“My initial view based on the evidence reviewed so far, is that such a split could be the best approach,” she told MPs. She said that she had considered the risk of harm associated with playing the National Lottery, concluding that it was one of the lowest risk forms of gambling.
“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,” said Davies
Alongside this, Ms Davies announced plans to increase the maximum prize in draws run by “society lotteries”, that support good causes like sports clubs, hospitals and charities, from £400,000 to £500,000.
The commission is expected to reach a decision in the autumn, and to have a clear position before the bidding process for the next National Lottery licence begins in 2020.