The National Lottery’s management company, Camelot Group, has faced social and political criticism amid claims that 16 and 17-year-olds spent £47 million on National Lottery games.
The Sunday Times has accused Camelot of ‘exploiting a loophole’ in British gambling regulations, enabling children to wager on instant-win goods from National Lottery without any sort of interference.
The Sunday Times cited ‘latest figures’ as saying that 16-to-17-year-olds spent £ 47 million on National Lottery games in 2017-18, with two-thirds playing instant-win to scratchcard games online.
Camelot was accused by the Times inquiry of deliberately gaining ‘exclusive access to a teenage market denied to other betting firms’ where children could play up to £ 350 a week without offering customer service tests.
Critics said Camelot planned its National Lottery gaming platform to lure adolescents with instant-win games designed for popular video games and reality TV shows like Donkey Kong and Love Island.
The National Lottery is described in the study as the first gambling experience for the majority of teenage viewers, leading to the 2018 results of the UKGC that ‘55,000 children aged 11-16 were ‘problem gamblers’ and 450,000 children regularly gambling.’
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield OBE, shared her frustration at Camelot for abusing the affluent position and disbelief that a gambling site could involve under 18s.
The Times added that Camelot has increased its reliance on instant-win and scratchcard games which now account for 43 percent of all revenues – as the operator reports a diminishing return on their weekly National Lottery draws.
In turn, the government is accused of failure in tackling the issue of underage problem gambling, having shown little traction in a consultation initiated in July 2019 by former Sports Secretary Mims Davies, in which the National Lottery’s raising age limits was the main priority.
DCMS indicated that its response to the minimum age consultation is currently being considered, and that shielding adolescents from gambling would play a central role in the implementation of a new Gambling Act.
Camelot released a statement stating that it would support ‘an review of the minimum age for playing National Lottery games for the next licence period as it has been more than 25 years since these restrictions were set.’
Despite winning a six-month lockout contract extension, Camelot is negotiating to renew its National Lottery operating concession, which will expire in 2023, in which tendering analysts clarify in detail that it faces critical questions about how it will restore the lottery attracts the general public.
Camelot CEO Nigel Railton, offering input to the House of Lords report on gambling damage behaviour, confirmed that a decision to increase age limits on National Lottery goods ultimately rested with the government, and would be endorsed by the company.
“For 25 years the age has been 16 so it is probably a good time to look at it. We do not have that many people playing at 16 or 17 online . . . Our position is that it is ultimately a matter for the government and if the government wants to raise the age to 18, we will support that,” Railton said.