Specialists in the area of gambling addiction are pleading to parents not to buy lottery tickets as gifts for children this Christmas, noting that it could lead to gambling-related harms later down the line.
As reported by WCHS, Sheila Moran, a Communications Director with First Choice Services, a West Virginia-based gambling harms and addiction specialist, warned that lottery tickets can act as a gateway to more problematic gambling behaviour in the future.
She told WCHS, “When kids get a gift like that, really the worst thing that could happen would be that they scratch that ticket and they win.
“Because we find that having an early, big win is one of the key predictors to having a gambling problem later on. We also know that just like with drinking alcohol, the earlier someone starts gambling, the more likely they are to develop a problem later on.”
The warning comes in the lead up to Christmas, coinciding with the National Council on Problem Gambling’s ‘Gift Responsibly’ campaign.
NCPG partnered with the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviours at McGill University to launch the campaign.
It follows research revealing that early childhood gambling experiences, including those with lottery products, increase the risk of developing gambling problems in adulthood.
“The Gift Responsibly Campaign educates communities about lottery tickets, which are the form of gambling with the broadest participation level,” noted Keith Whyte, Executive Director at NCPG. “It explains why lottery tickets are not appropriate as gifts for children.
“The retailers who sell lottery products and the adults who buy them learn that early exposure to gambling activities through lottery gifts, such as scratch-off tickets, increases the possibility that children will develop a gambling addiction as they grow older.”
Moran warned that in West Virginia, research indicates that children begin to gamble at around the ages of 11 and 12.
“We know from national studies as well as surveys we’ve done here in West Virginia that kids as young as middle school are gambling,” Moran said. “And sports is one of the things that they gamble on.”
“We talk a lot about scratch-off lottery tickets, but this year there’s something new. A lot of people are seeing sports book gift cards in stores and are thinking about that. That’s something I also want to make people understand is an adult-only gift. That is not for kids.”