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Camelot backs National Lottery minimum age increase

| By Daniel O'Boyle
UK National Lottery operator Camelot says it supports the UK Government's decision to increase the minimum age to play the National Lottery from 16 to 18 and will take steps to implement the change by April, rather than October.
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After the Government announced that it would raise the the National Lottery age requirement, citing changes in how the game has played with increasing growth of online and instant win games, Camelot said it supported the decision.

The announcement was made alongside the review of the Gambling Act, announced yesterday (8 December). The review will ask questions on the effect of stake limits and universal deposit limits. Meanwhile, questions about advertising and bonuses suggest anything up to a complete ban on the major acquisition channels could potentially be on the table.

“We’ve said all along that we would fully support any decision made by the government to raise the minimum age to play,” a Camelot spokesperson said. “Now that a decision has been made to raise the age to 18 by October 2021, we’ll be doing everything we can to implement all of the changes that will be necessary as quickly as possible, while ensuring that we maintain the very high standards demanded of The National Lottery. 

The change in age will be implemented by October 2021, following a consultation. However, Camelot said it planned to implement all of the necessary changes significantly ahead of this date.

“We’ve already started this work in preparation and, subject to receiving the appropriate licence variations and waivers from the Gambling Commission, we’re aiming to complete all of the changes that are needed in our online channels by early April 2021 and, in our retail channel, over the course of the summer – well in advance of the change in law,” the spokesperson said.

In August, the Gambling Commission launched the process to award the fourth National Lottery tender, with Camelot having won each of the prior three. 

While Czech gaming giant Sazka Group and Indian lottery operator and technology provider Sugal & Damani have each announced that they will bid, Camelot has so far only confirmed that it has completed the Gambling Commission’s Selection Questionnaire, and has not yet announced an official bid.

Meanwhile, leading betting operators Flutter Entertainment and William Hill have both also welcomed the review, building on the support that the Betting and Gaming Council gave the process.

William Hill chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said large operators have been committed to raising standards and he was excited to work with the Government to keep gambling safe.

“William Hill welcomes the gambling review which the Government has launched today,” Bengtsson said. “Our industry is more committed than ever to keeping gambling as safe as possible and we have been getting on with raising standards. Whether it’s ensuring under-18s and vulnerable people are not exposed to gambling adverts or identifying at-risk players through technology, we are continually driving up standards to ensure gambling remains a safe and fun pursuit for millions of people in the UK.

“We look forward to engaging with the Government throughout the review to ensure that any new regulations work alongside progress made by our industry and provide clarity and certainty for customers, operators and all those who work in the sector.”

Bengtsson added that he hoped to see an evidence-led review that would balance consumer protection for at-risk gamblers with a reasonable degree of freedom for the majority of customers.

“It is important that the review is evidence-led, strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and the continued enjoyment of the many tens of millions who happily place the occasional bet, as well as taking a critical look at the growing risks of the black market where there are no consumer protections,” he said.

Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson also supported the review and said he hoped to see major changes brought about.

“The Gambling Act review needs to be a moment of radical change in the UK,” Jackson said. “Everything should be on the table, evaluated on the basis of substantive evidence. We must seize this opportunity for change in the interests of those who wish to see a safer, bettor future for everyone connected to gambling.”

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