The minimum age for playing the National Lottery in the UK will be raised as part of move to curb problem gambling.
The increase in the age limit follows a government review last year, which concluded the minimum age to participate in National Lottery games should be the same as the legal age for other forms of gambling at 18.
The change applies to retail and online lottery sales, with new online accounts set to be subject to age verification checks via Experian.
Figures show that more than 200,000 16 and 17-year-olds regularly play the Lotto and buy scratchcards.
A report in the House of Lords last month revealed many of the 55,000 children with a gambling problem began by playing the Lottery.
Lottery operator Camelot boss Nigel Railton said: “For 25 years the age has been 16 so it is probably a good time to look at it.”
The change comes into force on April 22.
A Lottery spokesman said: “From 22 April 2021, players must be 18 or over to play National Lottery games online, in store and on the app.
“This is in line with the government’s decision to raise the legal minimum age to play The National Lottery, which we fully support.
“Encouraging healthy play is at the heart of everything we do.
“Remember, you can set limits for the amount you deposit and spend each week, moderate your Instant Win Games play limit or even take a break from playing.”
Last year Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden led a major review of gambling laws.
Mr Dowden said the industry has grown “at breakneck speed” and he hopes the review allows those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.
Nigel Huddleston, minister for sport, tourism and heritage, said the new restrictions will help ensure that lottery is not a “gateway to problem gambling” – especially with the growth in online gaming.
The planned changes hope to address a balance between the enjoyment factor of gambling for some against the “right regulatory framework and protections”, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Extra measures that will be looked at include limits on stake and spend, marketing, online restrictions and whether additional protections for young adults will be needed.