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Major change to National Lottery minimum age in crackdown on problem gamblers

The government is banning under-18s from being able to buy National Lottery tickets or scratchcards from today, in a bid to stop children getting hooked on harder forms of gambling

Children under 18 can still buy lottery tickets in shops, just not online – but government is closing the loophole

Under-18s will be banned from playing the National Lottery or buying scratchcards from today, as the minimum age rises from 16 to 18.

People aged under 18 have been barred from online gambling since April, but those aged 16 or over have still been able to buy lottery tickets or scratchcards in physical stores.

This applies to Lotto, Set For Life and EuroMillions tickets sold by the National Lottery.

This follows the launch of a major review of gambling laws to protect children and vulnerable people from getting addicted to gambling.

Nigel Huddleston, minister for sport, tourism and heritage, said the new restrictions will help ensure that lottery is not a “gateway to problem gambling” – especially with the growth in online gaming.

A cross-party group of MPs has been campaigning to prevent vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds getting into gambling.

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They claim that allowing youngsters to buy lottery tickets, scratchcards and play online games acts as a gateway to much harder forms of gambling.

Campaigner Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, previously told The Mirror: “Britain is the only country in the world that allows children to gamble.

“The loophole that lets under-18s buy lottery tickets has been exploited to peddle rapid instant win games to children, which act as a gateway to harder forms of gambling.

“These games have more in common with online casinos than lotteries. The government should increase the minimum age to 18 as soon as possible.”

Lottery operator Camelot has not opposed the change.



Children have been banned from online gambling – but can still do it in person
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Image:

Universal Images Group via Getty Images)




Boss Nigel Railton said: “For 25 years the age has been 16 so it is probably a good time to look at it.”

A spokesperson for Camelot said, “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.”





Last week The Mirror reported the government is set to announce a ban on football shirts being able to have gambling companies as their main sponsors.

In practice this is likely to mean gambling firms will not be able to advertise on the front of football shirts.

The expected change is thought to be implemented from 2023 once it has been discussed in Parliament, which should allow clubs an opportunity to restructure their sponsorship programmes.





The news comes after Peter Shilton, the former England goalkeeper, joined forces with campaigners to hand in a petition signed by 12,000 people to 10 Downing Street to call for an end to the excessive gambling advertisement in the world of football.

The Government’s white paper, which will outline the proposed changes, will be revealed towards the end of the year or potentially in the early stages of next year.

Although the change will not tackle the issue of TV marketing and pitchside signs, the change will be the most significant change to advertising in football since tobacco promotion was banned in the UK in 2003.


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