Camelot under pressure over sales to children

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The Independent Online

A survey showing that shopkeepers are still selling National Lottery tickets and scratch cards to children as young as 11, without even asking their age, has prompted renewed pressure for Camelot to clamp down on under-age sales.

Of the 91 lottery outlets in Liverpool visited by two 11-year-old girls and three 12-year-old boys, acting on behalf of the city's trading standards office, 10 sold tickets and cards illegally.

The youngsters, none of whom look the minimum legal age of 16, expressed surprise at the readiness of some retailers to flout the law.

"It was easy to buy in some shops," said Christopher Kelly, 12. "I just handed over the money and there were no questions asked."

Liverpool Trading Standards has reported its findings to Camelot and the lottery regulator, Oflot. "We need to establish what controls Camelot and Oflot exert to stop this happening and what has gone wrong to permit these sales," said head officer Peter Mawdsley.

"We applaud the many outlets who refused to sell to the children. But it is clear more needs to be done to help stop young children from getting involved in this type of gambling."

Camelot insists that its team of investigators is constantly monitoring outlets, but Liverpool City Council is considering taking the matter into its own hands.

The council may grant its trading-standards officers the power to take legal action against offending shops.

A Camelot spokeswoman refused to comment on the results of the Liverpool survey but said the company continued to take tough action against retailers found selling tickets and cards to children aged under 16.

"All retailers are well aware of what their responsibilities are and, if they are found knowingly selling tickets to under-16s, their contracts will be terminated," she said.

She said Camelot urged shopkeepers to ask for proof of age if there was any doubt and for parents to refrain from buying tickets for their children.

Trading-standards officers notified Camelot to invalidate the numbers of the illegally-sold tickets so they do not affect tonight's draw.

The scratch cards are being returned to the lottery operators intact.