The UK National Lottery removed its online £10 instant win games over fears they fuelled gambling addiction, according to a report by The Telegraph.
The games were withdrawn following a UK Gambling Commission report last year which found a possible link with problem gambling.
The Telegraph reported that research found “once the evidence had been received and assessed, £10 IWGs games were removed from the market within four weeks.”
Camelot, the operator of the National Lottery, has reportedly seen its online games income rise sharply over the past two years to £750m. Figures seen by The Telegraph show the lottery’s takings from instant win games grew fivefold in 10 years and now make up a tenth of all its sales.
Although the £10 online games have been removed, there are still 42 instant win games available to play, varying in stake price from 50p to £5.
MPs and gambling addiction experts have urged the National Lottery to remove its online games.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, said: “The National Lottery seems to be turning itself into a gambling company of which it is beginning to exhibit the worst elements. The National Lottery should immediately withdraw from this – this is not an area in which they were ever meant to be involved.”
He added: “The National Lottery should return to the single purpose it had right at the outsight.”
Dr Steve Sharman, a research fellow at the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London, stated: “To me, that’s mind-boggling that they’re allowed to get away with calling it playing, not what it is, which is gambling.
“The major difference between draws and these instant win games is obviously the outcome resolution speed. The more addictive products tend to be the ones where things happen more quickly. The lottery is finding a way to sell products that do have the addictive structural characteristics.”
Camelot, whose licence to run the lottery expires in 2023, denies any of its games are addictive, claiming they’re ‘very distinct’ from gambling.
The operator said it suspended the £10 instant win games but has ‘still seen no research that suggests that £10 National Lottery games are a cause of harm’. It refused to rule out reintroducing the games, instead saying it had ‘no immediate plans’ to do so.
A spokesman for Camelot said: “The National Lottery is enjoyed by tens of millions of people each year, and because of the design process of our games – in which they are built and tested to be safe – we have the lowest incidence of problem play.
“Protecting players is, and will always be our highest priority. We continue to lead the industry on protecting players, as we have for 26 years, and we remain committed to innovating to make sure our game design, controls and interventions are the best they can be.”