Fifteen-year-old wins Spanish State Lottery El Nino jackpot By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming Reports January 12, 2019 at 5:30 pm For lack of a better term, this one is a public relations nightmare for the Spanish gambling authorities: a fifteen-year-old boy named Cosmin Rotariu has won €200,000 in the Spanish State lottery. Start with the fact that the legal age for participating in the lottery is eighteen. Rotariu claims that his father had given him permission to make the purchase. This may or may not excuse the purchaser (or purchasers.) To be fair, nobody is suggesting that the Spanish Lottery not pay out on the win, but both local authorities and the shop where the ticket was purchased are coming in for some criticism. Even the media is taking some hits. In short, people are baying for blood and for someone to take the blame. Something like this would seem to not bode well for preventing further child gambling in Spain, especially considering how many people have likely seen the media photos of Cosmin celebrating his win, including one shot of him leaping in the air and clicking his heels, while holding his winning numbers, at what appears to be an official lottery ceremony. And who can blame the kid? It’s hard to blame the media, either; it’s clearly a newsworthy story. Although you’d hope that there would at least be some improvements made in the enforcement of the law at lottery points of sale. Here in the UK, it’s far too common for parents and guardians to allow minors to purchase lottery tickets. This casual normalisation of gambling at a young age cannot be without its consequences; it seems likely that such behaviour could easily contribute to later gambling habits, for some children, at least. A recent UK Gambling Commission study, conducted in conjunction with the police, found that in the vast majority of pubs and clubs surveyed there was no enforcement – and, in many cases, no information displayed at all – about age limits on class C gaming machines, commonly known as fruit machines (think FOBTs’ less threatening younger cousin.) Parents, shopkeepers, pub landlords, gambling firms who advertise publicly on TV, online or elsewhere – all share the burden of responsibility for exposing the underage to forms of gambling. In the end, one underage problem gambler is one too many. The problem with something like this ‘El Nino’ win is that it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s surrounded by an echo chamber of media coverage and will surely lead to, at least, some call and response. Rotariu’s parents have already told the media that they will take charge of the funds and set them aside for their son’s college tuition. Nonetheless, many youngsters will likely read the news and think, simply, “that could be me” – a process much more easily indulged in when the winner’s grinning visage looks so similar to one’s own.