UK Government Considering Raising Age of Instant Win Games to 18+
It has been reported that the government is considering raising the legal age for scratchcards and online games to 18+. Previously they have been available for 16+ and the proposal which has been in the pipeline for years is now set to come into force in 2023.
Originally, plans included to raise the age on National Lotter Draws, however, this decision was reversed by the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Mims Davies. In a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond, she explained that following research the new stance was a ‘proportionate and precautionary’ approach. These proposals, she said, would protect under-18s from future gambling-related problems.
As the current National Lottery License is valid until 2023, any changes to current regulations will have to wait until then. Camelot said that local business will be hit by a fall of £5.4 million in revenue, and the Lottery Duty take will be reduced by £3.8 million. Nevertheless, Camelot stated they had ‘no issues’ with the government’s decision and will ‘assist’ in any way possible.
These views are echoed throughout the industry, with Gamevy CEO arguing the case for increased age limits saying:
Instant win games have a far lower number of plays in a session, are slower to play and typically have fixed stakes. But whereas the average player in the UK loses a relatively small amount of their disposable income, in this age group it can represent a high percentage– Paul Dolman-Darrall, Gamevy CEO.
Watered Down Plans Receive Criticism
He clearly understands the vulnerability of under-18s. Indeed, he said the government has made a mistake in abandoning its original plans, of a blanket age raise for all lottery games. He also criticised the National Lotter for ‘doing nothing’ to protect those who were vulnerable and underage.
Another voice from the industry, Ed Mouton, the chairman of the European Lottery Betting Association, was also vocal in his criticism. He pointed out that any game of chance should be considered gambling, thus strict age limits should be enforced. He said in comparison to most countries in Europe impose 18+ limits, and the government has a duty of care to protect the children in society.
Other campaigners, such as Liz Ritchie from Gambling With Lives, also urged the government to re-think its proposal. She stated that gambling addiction is more likely the younger the person starts, and a UKGC study in 201 found 55,000 children were addicted to gambling in the UK, whilst 450,000 bet regularly. Clearly backing up her point. It remains to be seen if the goverment does change its plans before 2023.