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 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.