It’s looking increasingly like a case of not if, but when the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised to 18.
Soundings, most likely through whispered conversations with the media, are suggesting that the government are leaning towards the increased age limit with the Mirror the latest national to report the imminent arrival of 18+ for scratchcards.
The signal follows a July report by the House of Lords which stated the majority of the 55,000 children addicted to gambling were first exposed to it through playing the lottery.
While one must treat the problem gambling statistic with caution – the gap between the problem gambling narrative and the facts is a widening chasm – the mood swing is very much against the National Lottery rules on this.
The go-to man on all things problem gambling, the fervent anti-gambling campaigner Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesperson for Clean Up Gambling, told the Mirror: “The younger you start gambling the more likely you are to fall into addiction. All gambling should be restricted to 18 and over.”
The sentiment was not ruled out by Nigel Railton, CEO of the current concession- holder Camelot, who said “for 25 years the age has been 16 so it is probably a good time to look at it.”
A campaign to bring the minimum age of purchase up to 18 has been gathering momentum for a number of years, with Tracey Crouch calling for the increase when sports minister in 2018.
However, though the latest data reveals that over 200,000 16 and 17-year-olds regularly purchase scratchcards and enter the main draw, any increase in the age limit is unlikely to occur until the lottery licence is renewed in 2023.