UK MPs blast “farcical” timeframe for lottery age change

Camelot says it could take a year to change the signs at retail outlets.
Camelot says it could take a year to change the signs at retail outlets.

Camelot claims it will take a year to enforce any new age limit on National Lottery products.

UK.- The incumbent operator of the UK’s National Lottery has entered a row with MPs after claiming that it will need a year to enforce a likely ban on under 18s purchasing its products.

The UK government is keen to introduce legislation next year to raise the minimum age to buy lottery tickets and scratch cards from 16 to 18. 

However, Camelot’s chief executive Nigel Railton told a session of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling-Related Harm that the operator would need 12 months to implement the change.

He said the long transition would be needed because of the time it would take to change all of the signs at retail outlets that advertise the age limit for lottery products.

Railton told MPs: “We just can’t do things overnight. It’s not a small task, it’s going to cost about six million pounds 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.”

MPs described the timeframe as “farcical” and “wholly unacceptable”, demanding that Camelot find a way to speed up the process.

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 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 has said that it would “fully support” any decision the government made to raise the age but did not accept that there was evidence of a “significant risk of harm” to under-18s playing the lottery.

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.”

The British Gambling Commission has begun the tender process for the next National Lottery licence.

The Czech Republic’s Sazka and India’s Sugal & Damani have confirmed their intention to compete against Camelot in the process.

Camelot’s latest results show that revenue fell by just 1.7 per cent in H1 despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.