Thursday, December 9, 2021

OBH warns parents not to purchase lottery tickets and scratch-offs for children

The Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health would like to remind parents that lottery tickets and scratch-offs are not suitable gifts for children. Often, we are looking for simple gifts and stocking stuffers to serve as quick and easy gifts around the holidays. Lottery tickets and scratch-offs are not a good idea because of the potential harm these gifts might cause for some children.

Many problem gamblers report early exposure to gambling, as youths. Often, parents and children participate in gambling behaviors that appear to be harmless — however, research shows that this early exposure can trigger the start of a very serious gambling addiction.

A 2017 study by the Imperial College London says gambling addiction triggers the same brain areas as drug and alcohol cravings. “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, Office of Behavioral Health. “These games are meant for adults and are age restricted for a reason.

“Disordered gambling among youths is frequently linked with … greater gambling expenditures, academic difficulties, poor or disrupted family relationships, both concurrent and later alcohol and substance abuse problems,” Renee St-Pierre and Jeffrey Derevensky report in Youth Gambling Behavior: Novel Approaches to Prevention and Intervention.

According to the 2020 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey, 33% of youths (grades 6, 8, 10 and 12) in Louisiana have reported gambling in the past year, down from 40% in 2018. In Louisiana, 13.7% of 6th graders, 15.3% of 8th graders, 12.1% of 10th graders and 9.3% of 12 graders have reported playing the lottery or scratch-off tickets in the past year, as well as other forms of gambling. 

Louisiana provides problem gambling resources at no cost to residents. If you or someone you love would like more information on problem gambling or to talk to someone about a gambling problem, please call the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline at 1-877-770-STOP (7867). The helpline provides confidential support and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to potential gamblers and/or family. Help is also available online at and

Problem gambling is a hidden addiction that goes undetected. Know the signs and the things to look for, before it is too late.

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