The National Lottery is taking advantage of a loophole that allows children as young as 16 to gamble hundreds of pounds a week online.
There are fears the loophole could lead to an epidemic of gambling among future generations, with the latest figures revealing that 16 and 17 year olds spent £47 million on National Lottery games in 2017-2018.
Two-thirds of that was spent on scratchcards and instant win online games, amoxicillinn.blogspot.com including Bingo Millionaire, Fruity £500s and Treasure Temple, which offers a top prize of £500,000.
In the UK the minimum age for gambling in the UK is 18, which leave Camelot, the body behind the lottery, with exclusive access to the teenage gambling market.
The National Lottery is being played by thousands of 16 and 17 year olds, leading to fears of a gambling addiction epidemic
There are more than 40 instant win games for teenagers to choose from, with many dressed in the format of popular board games such as Monopoly.
The National Lottery has also introduced games sure to be popular with teenagers, such as a Love Island scratchcard.
The easy access of these games have led to accusations that the National Lottery is fueling a gambling addiction among future generations.
A 2018 investigation by the Gambling Commission found about 55,000 children aged 11-16 were ‘problem gamblers’ and 450,000 children gambled regularly.
Ryan Debick, a 28-year-old unemployed electrician from Bedfordshire, bought his first scratchcard from a corner shop soon after turning 16.
Since then he has spent up to £20,000 on National Lottery games in shops and online.
He said he later suffered a breakdown in 2017, fueled by his addiction, which led to problems with his partner and their children.
Tina Coulson, who works at Greggs in Newcastle upon Tyne, admits being a National Lottery scratchcard addict.
Bingo Millionaire and Fruity £500s are just two of the instant win games that teenagers can play
Treasure Temple, which offers a top prize of £500,000, is also available to teenagers
She said she was ‘about 15 or 16’ when an older boyfriend started buying scratchcards for her.
On her first win she was ‘over the moon’ and admits she ‘loved scratching’ and didn’t really care if she won or not.
Another man, named only as Robert, 22, from Wrexham, went as far as shoplifting and stealing from his parents to feed his gambling addiction.
He has spent £30-40 on National Lottery scratchcards almost every day from 16.
When asked to describe his addiction, he said: ‘I guess it’s the excitement of potentially winning big, but you never do.
I’ve got a picture of when I won £200 on a £10 scratchcard; I also won £200 from a £2 ‘fast 200′ card. It felt great. And the different cards make it fun, too, as there are many different games.’
Over the weekend, the all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm has written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to call for the minimum age to play the lottery to be raised to 18.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, said: ‘The lottery is clearly competing with mainstream gambling companies, but they have the advantage of being able to target children.’
Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, told the Sunday Times: ‘It’s surprising, given the large, worrying and well-established numbers of children who problem gamble, that any gaming platform should have a lower age limit than any other.’
Camelot said: ‘We agree …
that it is appropriate to review 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.’