Ban under-18s from playing National Lottery games, MPs demand

Gordon Rayner
Anyone aged 16 or over can play the National Lottery - PA

Under-18s must be banned from playing National Lottery games, MPs have said, as they criticised ministers for dithering over making a decision on new age limits.

Mims Davies, the culture minister, launched a consultation yesterday on whether the existing age limit of 16 should be raised, saying she was considering raising the limit for scratchcards and other instant win games to 18 but allowing 16-year-olds to continue playing draw-based games such as Lotto.

She faced an instant backlash from Tory MPs who said there was “no need” to carry out a consultation process because children should not be allowed to gamble.

Sir Desmond Swayne said: “Given its tendency to be habit-forming, the later that it can be put off until the better, and certainly gambling shouldn't begin before adulthood should it?”

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader and chairman of Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, agreed the age limit for all Lottery games should be 18, saying: “Frankly we should just get on with it, I think there's enough evidence out there."

The culture minister Mims Davies has started a consultation on age limits for lottery games Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley

Making a statement to the House of Commons, Ms Davies said: "The age of 18 is widely recognised as an age one becomes an adult, gaining full citizenship rights and responsibilities.

"At present, all lotteries can be played from 16 - one of the very few age limits for gambling under-18 products.

"So in addition to the option to raise the minimum age to 18 for all National Lottery games...I'm also seeking views on a differentiated approach that would increase the minimum age of instant win games only - this includes scratchcards and online instant win games.

"My initial view is based on the evidence reviewed so far, so it is that such a split could be the best approach.”

National Lottery operator Camelot said it has "no issue" with the review.

Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “To gamble you should be an adult, so the minimum age for all gambling products should be 18, it's as simple as that."

Marc Etches, chief executive of charity Gamble Aware, said: "Gambling is an adult activity, so we welcome this decision to review the age of purchase for scratchcards and instant win games."