When you think about it, it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for the minimum age to play the UK National Lottery to be increased from 16 to 18.
But that’s exactly what will happen in 2021, according to governmental ministers, with the announcement coming on the day that a review into the 2005 Gambling Act – a wider-ranging look at the industry as a whole – begun.
The lottery has been described as a ‘gateway’ to other forms of gambling, which of course are prohibited for under 18s, and so the decision to increase the minimum age – which will come into force in October 2021 – was considered essential by reformists.
Dreams Turn Into a Nightmare
It’s telling, in its own way, that two of the youngest lottery winners in history had both previously called for the minimum age of players to be increased to 18.
Callie Rogers won £1.8 million when she was just 16, but after splashing the cash – and suffering verbal and online abuse from complete strangers and people she used to call her friends – she has said she was ‘too young’ and irresponsible. The 32-year-old now earns £12,000 working as a carer.
When she was 17, Jane Park walked into her local newsagents and purchased her first ever lottery ticket – she landed the Euromillions jackpot of £1 million.
But such were her woes that she even threatened to sue lottery firm Camelot for ‘ruining my life’. “I thought it would make [my life] ten times better, but it’s made it ten times worse,” she said. “I wish I had no money most days.”
The National Lottery and Camelot aren’t all that forthcoming on the stats about teenage players, but we know that some 17% of all UK lottery players are under the age of 24. There have been at least six jackpot winners – scooping a minimum of £1 million – aged 16 or 17 since the draw began.
The First of Many Changes?
This increase in the minimum age for playing on the UK National Lottery is the first of many possible changes forthcoming to the gambling sector.
The government’s 16-week consultation period into the betting industry has begun, and of the possibilities being considered there is plenty of evidence to suggest that a limit on online casino stakes is in the offing – in the same vein as the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in bookmakers’ shops was introduced.
There could be enhanced affordability checks too, with casinos and sports betting sites handed access to your personal data to ensure you are wagering an ‘appropriate’ amount in proportion to your take home pay.
Other potential avenues being explored include a maximum number of slots spins per minute, a wider range of punitive measures metered out to those brands which don’t adhere to responsible gambling guidelines and tougher punishments dished out to unlicensed operators as the government seeks to change ‘an analogue law in a digital age’, according to the culture secretary Oliver Dowden.