(Note: This blog post was originally published in December 2018. We are sharing it again as Louisianans consider gifts for their loved ones for the holidays.)
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
It is not too unusual for parents and relatives to gift
children and youth 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. Gambling games like these are meant for adults and are age
restricted for a reason.
The Office of Behavioral Health released a report titled,
2018 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey, that detailed 2018 gambling
statistics among students in grades 6, 8 10 and 12. The survey revealed that over
40% of students reported gambling in the past year. The highest incidences of
gambling were reported amongst 18% of 10th graders who reported
betting on sporting events, and 16.8% of 8th graders surveyed reported
that they had played the lottery or lottery scratch-off tickets.
Studies of adults with gambling problems have shown that
the earlier a person begins to gamble, 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. That’s why we
discourage the giving of such presents to children,” said Kenneth Saucier, Program
Manager with the Office of Behavioral Health.
Louisiana provides problem gambling resources at no cost
to residents. For more information on problem gambling or to set up an
appointment to address a problem or concern, call the Louisiana Problem
Gamblers Helpline at 1-877-770-STOP (7867). The helpline provides confidential
support and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Help is also
available online through the Office of Behavioral Health and the Louisiana Association for Compulsive Gambling.