An academic retained by the Office of National Lottery has been gathering data from all over the country for some time, a spokesman for the organisation said yesterday.
Oflot said a survey carried out by trading standards officers in Devon had shown that tickets were regularly sold to children. The findings are to be passed to the police. "We take a serious view of selling to kids, it is against the law," said the Oflot spokesman.
One of Oflot's duties is to ensure that games did not encourage excessive gambling, and are not available to under-16s. But the onus was on the lottery operator, Camelot, to educate retailers on how to deal with the age issue, it said.
A Camelot spokesman said it had not yet seen the results of the Devon survey, which showed that 50 per cent of 24 attempted purchases by under- age youngsters were successful. But it confirmed that it would investigate and suspend any retailer who knowingly sold to under-16s. "We try to reinforce the under-16s issue with retailers," the spokesman said. Recently a retailer in Liverpool had his lottery terminal removed following an investigation.
The Devon trading standards survey, which used children aged from 10 to 14, also showed that retailers sold solvents, cigarettes and inappropriate videos to under-age children. Devon's trading standards director, Steve Butterworth, said: "Some retailers were not aware youngsters had to be 16 to buy a lottery ticket."
The Institute of Trading Standards Administration is holding talks with the police about the need for a national enforcement regime for lottery tickets.
The Gaming Board, the betting industry's official regulator, wants the sale of National Lottery tickets and Instants scratch cards to be banned for children aged under-18, bringing them into line with the legal age for other types of gambling.
The youngsters in the survey also made 11 successful purchases of solvents from 17 attempts, the Devon report showed.
Cigarettes were bought seven times from 20 attempts, and videos six times from 26 attempts.Reuse content