The Gambling Commission is running the competition for the next national lottery licence, which will come into force in August 2023. The Gambling Commission has undertaken several rounds of market engagement with prospective applicants, and I was pleased to note that the commission received the expected number of applications. We expect to announce the preferred applicant at the end of the year.
The Gambling Commission has turned down an invitation to appear before the gambling-related harm all-party group to discuss the upcoming national lottery licence procurement and the performance of the current provider. Many products developed by the current provider, such as online instant win games, have potential to cause serious harms, so will the Minister reassure the House that there will be proper scrutiny of the next provider and that appropriate harm prevention measures will be introduced?
The incidence of problem gambling is lowest among players of the National Lottery, but nevertheless the need for protection of players remains of paramount importance. It was for that reason that the Government recently increased the minimum age for purchase of national lottery tickets from 16 to 18, and I can assure the hon. Lady that we will continue to monitor, as will the Gambling Commission, whether any further measures are necessary.