MSE News

Age limit to play National Lottery to increase to 18

The minimum legal age to play the National Lottery is set to rise from 16 to 18 next year, as the Government plans to crack down on problem gambling. 

Selling National Lottery tickets and scratchcards in shops to under-18s will be banned from October 2021 "at the latest", while online sales to 16 and 17-year-olds will be stopped from April 2021. 

The Government says the National Lottery's games have changed significantly over the years, and there's now a growing trend towards playing online and instant win games, such as scratchcards. It says the new minimum age will help make sure the National Lottery isn't a "gateway to problem gambling". 

Alongside this change, the Government has launched a review of gambling laws, and has asked for the views of those involved in the industry, with a deadline to respond of 31 March 2021.

In its review, the Government plans to look at how it may be able to better protect online gamblers, including limits on online stakes, changing the rules on advertising and promotional offers, and introducing extra protection for young people. 

See our Debt Problems guide for what to do and where to get help if you're struggling. 

What does the Government say?

Today's move follows action already taken by the Government, including banning the use of credit cards to make gambling purchases earlier this year, launching tighter age verification checks, and cutting the maximum stake on electronic slot machines. 

Earlier this year, the Government also asked for input to explore young people's experiences of so-called 'loot boxes' in video games, to examine any links to problem gambling. Players are often encouraged to purchase these boxes for a chance to access digital bonuses that could help them progress further in games. 

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden said: "While millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.

"This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely."

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!