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Independent retailers are calling for sales assistants under 18 to be allowed to continue to sell national lottery tickets and scratchcards to customers when new age to play restrictions take effect later in the year.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden explaining the difficulties that retailers will face if sales assistants have to be aged 18 or over to sell these products.

The letter, signed by NFRN National President Stuart Reddish, said: “Currently, both the buyer and the seller must be 16 or over, which we agree makes sense.

“It would assist independent retailers managing their businesses with a minimum level of staff in the store, if, in line with sales of tobacco and other age restricted products, staff members in the 16 – 17 year old age range could continue to sell lottery products.

“Staff in this age group provide an important part of the staffing of convenience stores at key times, including the weekend staff who are selling lottery tickets in the hours before the Saturday lottery draws.”

Increasing the age of the seller would have a significant impact on the businesses of independent retailers and threaten the employment of younger members of staff, the letter went on to warn.

“Retailers would have to bring in more adult staff, at the expense of employing younger staff, increasing costs and depriving many young people of their first experience of work.

“For businesses that rely on family members to work in the store, the proposed changes would hit the store owners who have already taken on more and more hours in the face of a challenging business environment and increasing payroll costs.”

Maintaining the current minimum age to sell lottery products would provide “considerable help” to retailers while not diminishing the government’s desire to protect young people from harm, the letter concluded.

The NFRN was broadly supportive of the move to raise the minimum age for buying lottery tickets and scratchcards to 18 when announced in December last year.

At the time of the announcement, Mr Reddish said: “As responsible retailers, NFRN members support the move.”

The age change follows the launch of a major review of gambling laws to protect children and vulnerable people, led by the culture secretary.

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