Christmas is a time when the eyes of children are fixated firmly on what’s beneath the Christmas tree and in their stockings. While it may be tempting to gift them with something like a lottery ticket, the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health recommends against such gifts.
It’s not too unusual for parents and relatives to gift children with lottery tickets, scratch-offs and other gambling games. Such gifts are given with good intentions – they provide a little hope and fun, as well as dreams of winning something amazing. However, the odds of winning are small, especially when compared to the odds of developing a gambling addiction.
The Office of Behavioral Health released a report titled “The Impact of Gambling in Louisiana: 2016 Study of Problem Gambling” that detailed 2014 gambling statistics among students in grades 6, 8 10 and 12. Students reported playing bingo for money and betting on sports, cards, dice and games of skill.
The highest incidences of gambling were 20.2 percent of sixth-graders playing bingo for money, 19.7 percent of eighth-graders betting on sports and 19.4 percent of eighth-graders playing bingo for money – or roughly 1 in 5 students gambling.
Studies of adults with gambling problems have shown that the earlier a person begins gambling, the more likely they are to develop a gambling problem, especially when scoring a big win at a young age. An article by Renee St-Pierre and Jeffrey Derevensky noted “disordered gambling among youths is frequently linked with … greater gambling expenditure, academic difficulties, poor or disrupted family relationships, both concurrent and later alcohol and substance abuse problems.”
“Giving a lottery ticket or scratch-off to a child may seem like a cheap, fun and harmless gift, but such gifts can increase risk factors for an addiction problem further down the road,” said Kenneth Saucier, program manager with the Office of Behavioral Health. “That’s why we discourage the giving of such presents to children.”