UK Government announces the legal age for purchasing scratch cards will rise from 16 to 18. Mims Davies, the UK Minister for Minister for Sport and Civil Society, has committed to raising the minimum age to 18 for instant win games and maintaining the current 16 age limit for all draw-based games. In essence a ban on those under 18 buying scratch cards. However, 16 year-olds will still be able to purchase National Lottery tickets.

Minister Mims Davies, said: ‘We need to be very clear that gambling starts at 18. It's not to stop people from having fun, but it's to protect those most vulnerable people. That's where the Government needs to step in.' The new age limit will not come into force until 2023. Camelot the company which operates the National Lottery and Scratch Card games said: ‘We have no issue with a Government review of the age limit for buying National Lottery products and are happy to assist in any way we can to help inform the decision.'

As we reported earlier in the year, these changes have been on the cards (pun intended) for some time. Nevertheless, the reduction in age limit was criticised by Gambling watchdogs who wanted to include the National Lottery main game in the ban. The move is part of a broader drive in the UK which aims to regulate the gambling industry more strictly. This ban comes months after the restrictions cutting the maximum stake on the controversial betting machines (FOBT) from £100 per spin to £2 came into force.

It remains to be seen how the changes will affect the 100,000s of retailers who sell National Lottery scratch cards. Since the introduction of the stake limit on FOBT many big bookmakers have announced shop closures. A recent report claimed that a quarter of betting shops on UK high streets had been slated for closure, putting 12,000 jobs at risk.