National Lottery becomes 18+ as Gambling Act review begins

  • Updated
  • By Hannah Timoney
National lottery over 18s only
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The long awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act has officially begun, with stake limits and new ad restrictions being considered, and the role of the Gambling Commission to be analysed. The National Lottery’s minimum age will also be raised to 18, as the way that the lottery is played has “changed significantly.”

The reform starts with a call for evidence launched by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which will look into stake limits and spending limits, new rules around advertising and bonuses, and extra protection for young adults.

The call for evidence will last 16 weeks, running until the 31st March 2021 and the findings will inform changes to the 2005 Act. “The findings will be used to inform any changes to the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so,” DCMS said. 

The DCMS did not say whether loot boxes would be included in the review, as they noted the Government’s call for evidence on these in-game mechanics launched in September. This call for evidence came in an effort to determine the link between the gambling-like mechanisms and problem gambling. 

The Secretary of State for the DCMS, Oliver Dowden, said the gambling industry has changed massively since the 2005 Act came into place, making a new review necessary. “While millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age,” Dowden said. “From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.”

Most interestingly, the minimum age for the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 by October of next year. This means the age limit will not be included in the review, though the DCMS will open a consultation before this change comes into effect. 

The DCMS notes the lottery has undergone significant changes since its launch in 1994, with scratchcards and playing online becoming more prevalent. Patterns of play have changed, and while the lottery is already low-risk, raising the minimum age to 18 will ensure the National Lottery is not a gateway to problem gambling. 

“We’re committed to protecting young people from gambling related harm which is why we are raising the minimum age for the National Lottery,” said the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston. 

This review of the Gambling Act has been long awaited, after the Conservative Party promised the review before the 2019 win in the General Election. Here at OnlineBingo we welcome this review of the Gambling Act, as we continuously push for safer gambling. The move to increasing the National Lottery’s minimum age is long overdue, and frankly we are surprised it has taken this long to come into place. 

The Lottery is a form of gambling and should therefore be regulated as such, with an appropriate age restriction in place. Unlike loot boxes, which exist in a grey area where their link to gambling is not solid, the National Lottery has a clear and long standing relationship with problem gambling, acting as a gateway to slot machines and casinos amongst the younger generation.