At a recent All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) session, the CEO of Camelot, Nigel Railton, stated to UK Parliament members that it could take a year for the National Lottery operator to enforce an under-18s lottery ban if it is brought into law.

Railton told MPs during a session of the APPG on Gambling Related Harm that it would take up to 12 months to implement the 18 or over policy as changing the signs in shops and newsagents would be a time-consuming process.

The Camelot CEO said, via Yahoo! News: “Nothing we can do is overnight. We just can’t do things overnight. It’s not a small task, it’s going to cost about £6m to do it. And it’s not the money, it’s just we’re in the middle of this COVID crisis.

“We’ve got a lot of priorities, this is one of them, and the sooner we get clarity, the sooner we’ll get on with it.”

However, MPs dismissed Railton’s suggestion as ‘wholly unacceptable’ and ‘farcical’ while the National Lottery operator stated it was looking into ways to speed up the process.

As reported by The Telegraph, the Government is looking to bring legislation forward early next year to raise the age limit for all lottery draws, scratchcards and interactive instant win games to 18.

Conservative MP Richard Holden told the Telegraph: “It’s farcical to suggest that it would take 12 months to replace a few sticky signs in shops. It’s just another way for Camelot to drag their feet over children gambling.”

Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the Gambling Related Harm on the APPG, said: “The lottery and the products it provides should not be available to under-18s. This needs to be stopped immediately and it is wholly unacceptable for Camelot to say this process would take up to a full 12 months to implement.

“I am pleased that the government is finally bringing legislation forward on this but they must do so next year and must not delay any longer.”

Camelot added that although it refuses to accept there was any evidence of a ‘significant risk of harm’ of under-18s playing the lottery, it would ‘fully support any decision made by the government to raise the age.’

A spokesman said: “The National Lottery is a vast and complex operation, with a network of 44,000 retailers across the UK. While any changeover will not happen overnight, we will do everything in our power to bring it in as quickly as possible, while ensuring that we maintain the very high operational standards demanded of the National Lottery.

“However, it’s not simply a case of sending new stickers to retailers – under our licence to operate the National Lottery, the current 16+ sign must appear on all physical materials, as well as in all online channels.”