The “absurd loophole” allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to play National Lottery games must be closed, a Christian advocacy group has said.
Christian Action Research & Education’s (CARE) call comes amid speculation that the Government is considering banning under-18s from playing the National Lottery.
The Sun recently reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to unveil laws banning under-18s from buying National Lottery tickets and scratch cards.
The rule change, which the newspaper reported is due to be unveiled ‘within months’, would close the loophole allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to gamble on National Lottery games.
Currently gambling is illegal for under-18s but anyone aged 16 or over can play National Lottery games, including purchasing tickets for Lotto, Euromillions and Thunderball games, as well as National Lottery scratch cards.
Mr Johnson’s move comes in response to growing fears that the National Lottery is getting vulnerable children hooked on gambling, The Sun reported.
“The PM believes it is a necessary step to protect children,” a Whitehall source told the newspaper.
James Mildred, head of communications at CARE, warned that current gambling laws “are not fit for purpose” and said he hopes the reports are true.
“It’s good to see the Government is considering closing the absurd loophole that allows 16-17 year-olds to play National Lottery scratch cards. Let’s hope these reports are true. Our analogue gambling laws are not fit for purpose in a digital age and it’s quite clear that change is needed.”
Ronnie Cowan, SNP MP for Inverclyde and vice-chairman of Westminster’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, warned that the National Lottery is allowing children to develop gambling habits from an early age, as he branded the addiction a “quiet killer”.
“The industry is benefitting from gambling being normalised, either through gaming or through 16-year-olds being legally allowed and encouraged to buy National Lottery tickets and games,” he told The Daily Record.
“It’s pushed as a soft option but it can be habit-forming and young adults are swept up into a gambling environment with little or no education on the harm that gambling can do. It’s a quiet killer and destroys lives.
“The industry must be forced to acknowledge the potential damage and act accordingly.”
Picture: File photo, dated 02/08/18, of a National Lottery sign. (Andrew Milligan/PA).