Official watchdog the National Lottery Commission (NLC) has ordered UK lottery operator Camelot to take special measures to protect under-16s amid fears that a range of new scratchcards could tempt children into gambling.
Recently, Camelot has launched a series of scratchcards linked to children’s themes. Last week it announced a tie-up with the Lord of the Rings films, which are based on JRR Tolkien’s children’s classic.
Camelot will launch up to seven games associated with different characters from the final movie of the trilogy, The Return of the King.
Other scratchcards based on children’s games are Monopoly, Connect 4 and Space Invaders, which the NLC believes could make them attractive to underage players.
It is illegal to sell lottery tickets to children under 16 and Camelot must ensure marketing of the lottery does not attract children. But the lottery operator is keen to attract a new generation of young players to replace those who have stopped.
The NLC has told Camelot to undertake special research to prove that the games are not encouraging underage players. An NLC spokeswoman says the Lord of the Rings games could be attractive to under-16s. In addition, the NLC has ordered Camelot to monitor calls to the Lottery Line and to review its policy on film tie-ups.
Camelot commercial director Phil Smith says: “The last thing we are trying to do is appeal to under-16s. These things are precautionary measures.”
The NLC says it believes that the Lord of the Rings game’s price tag of £2 will deter under-16s from playing.
News Analysis, page 19