The UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has released its ‘Review of the Gambling Act 2005 Terms of Reference and Call for Evidence’ policy paper, where it has commented on raising the National Lottery age limit from 16 to 18 years.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State for DCMS Oliver Dowden declared the government will be raising the National Lottery age limit to 18 to help protect young people from gambling-related harm. The move comes in response to the significantly growing trend towards online play and instant win games like scratchcards.

With a deadline of implementation of October 2021, the government plans to roll out the new age limit quickly, with online lottery sales to 16 and 17 year olds banned from April 2021.

In its review, the DCMS stated: “Over the last 25 years, the National Lottery has seen significant growth, particularly in online play and instant-win games. Following a consultation, the government has announced that we will be increasing the minimum age for sale of National Lottery games to 18 from 2021, reflecting the latest public opinion and evidence on risk of harm.

“Society lotteries have grown too, with sales increasing from around £200m in 2008/09 to £830m in 2019/20. Sales and prize limits for society lotteries are subject to caps which were increased in July 2020 to enable society lotteries to continue to grow, whilst ensuring the unique position of the National Lottery is maintained.”

The department confirmed in its review that it will be increasing the minimum age for sale of National Lottery games to 18 in 2021 as it is ‘widely recognised as the age at which one becomes an adult’. Given the planned change, it articulated its plans to review the minimum age to play society lotteries as well.

The DCMS said: “Under the Gambling Act, society lotteries are only permitted for the benefit of non-commercial organisations such as charities, or sport, athletics or culture clubs. They raise money for specific good causes and are limited in size in order to ensure they remain distinct from the National Lottery.

“The overall society lotteries sector is small in comparison with the National Lottery. It has annual sales of around £830m (compared to approximately £7.9bn for the National Lottery in 2019/20), generating returns to good causes of £367m (compared to £1.8bn for the National Lottery in 2019/20).

“The sector has a low risk of harm (being associated with a problem gambling rate of 1.5% for those that play, compared to 1.0% for National Lottery draw-based games and 1.8% for scratchcards). We believe the number of 16 and 17 year olds playing society lotteries is very low.”

The DCMS added it would ‘welcome evidence to support us in considering the minimum age for society lotteries’, adding: “Society lottery sales and prize limits are not in scope of this Review, as legislation to increase these limits was introduced in July 2020 following an extensive consultation. We will be reviewing the impact of these reforms and the case for further changes in August 2021.”