The age requirement for playing the national lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 next October, as part of the government's "major and wide-ranging review" into the industry. The crackdown may result in further measures being imposed, including limits on online stakes and restrictions on advertising.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said that with the rise of the digital age, the gambling industry had "evolved at breakneck speed" and that it was time the government updated the law. The 2005 legislation that currently regulates the industry is "an analogue law in a digital age", Dowden said, adding that the aim of the review is to tackle "problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people".
"We're committed to protecting young people from gambling-related harm, which is why we are raising the minimum age for the National Lottery," added sport minister, Nigel Huddleston. "Patterns of play have changed since its inception, with a shift towards online games, and this change will help make sure the National Lottery, although already low-risk, is not a gateway to problem gambling."
James Mildred, Communications Manager at CARE, told Premier he was both "delighted" and "surprised" by the government's announcement.
"I'll tell you why I'm surprised, because last month there were some suggestions that the government was going to delay this review until next year," he said. "They made a manifesto promise that they would review the 2005 gambling act, and it urgently needs to be reviewed, it's very out of date."
"The fact that they have announced the review this side of 2021 - meaning the process can begin sooner rather than later - is just tremendous."
Mildred said the review was "the first step towards changing the law, and, hopefully, really introducing strong protections for children especially and vulnerable adults from gambling-related harm".
"Now, the challenge is to make sure that the review leads to genuine change," he said.
Mildred added that he'd still like to see further changes made, including a "mandatory levy on gambling firms".
"That money would then go towards funding research into gambling-related harms, and also crucially into funding treatment for people who are struggling with gambling addiction," he explained.
Mildred also noted his optimism about the fact the government has raised the idea of curbing gambling advertisements, which could, in turn, reduce the level of enticement for prospective gamblers.
"Gambling is presented as glamorous, as fun, as easy as harmless," he said. "The truth is very different, it's the opposite of all of that."