The minimum age for playing the UK National Lottery is set to be raised from 16 to 18 from next October as the government moves to crackdown on gambling.
The government has pledged a “major and wide-ranging review” of the sector, which may include limits on online stakes and restrictions on advertising. Betting firms could also be banned from sponsoring football shirts.
The current legislation, established in 2005, was “an analogue law in a digital age,” the government said.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the industry had “evolved at breakneck speed” and the aim of the review was to tackle “problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people.”
The age threshold for playing the National Lottery – including scratchcards – will rise from October 2021. Before that, online sales to 16 and 17-year-olds will stop in April 2021.
“We’re committed to protecting young people from gambling-related harm, which is why we are raising the minimum age for the National Lottery,” Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said.
“Patterns of play have changed since its inception, with a shift towards online games, and this change will help make sure the National Lottery, although already low-risk, is not a gateway to problem gambling.”
The review will also examine the actions that customers can take where they feel operators have breached social responsibility requirements.
The aim is to ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age… the industry has evolved at breakneck speed,” Mr Dowden said.
Jo Stevens, Labour’s shadow culture secretary, said it was “disappointing that the government has taken more than a year to launch this review, during which time more people have suffered with gambling addiction and without getting vital support.”