The Louisiana Department of Health Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) would like to remind parents that lottery tickets and other gambling-related activities like mobile sports betting are not meant for children. Many parents see these gifts and activities as fun and convenient, and while they might be a quick and easy gift, gambling is not intended for children and is age-restricted for a reason. These gifts and activities could put children at future risk for developing gambling issues.
Two of the biggest indicators of a future potential gambling problem are winning a large sum of money early and early exposure to gambling as a youth. Many problem gamblers report that early exposure to gambling contributed to their gambling issues later in life. Since the legalization of mobile sports betting in Louisiana, parents should be especially aware that any form of gambling is age restricted for a reason.
According to the 2020 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey, 33% of youths in Louisiana (grades 6, 8, 10 and 12) have reported gambling in the past year. In Louisiana, 13.7% of 6th graders, 15.3% of 8th graders, 12.1% of 10th graders and 9.3% of 12th graders have reported playing the lottery or scratch-off tickets in 2020, the last time the survey was issued. In addition, 13.2% of 6th graders, 14.6% of 8th graders, 12% of 10th graders and 9.9% of 12th graders have reported betting on sporting events in 2020, two years before mobile sports betting became popular in Louisiana. Parents need to be mindful about gambling because even though it has become a social norm, we still need to protect young people from being exposed through direct involvement.
According to a recent study by the Imperial College London, published in 2017, gambling addiction triggers the same brain areas as drug and alcohol cravings, and activates the same brain pathways as drug and alcohol cravings.
“Parents should to talk to their children about the potential risks that gambling can cause. Gambling is marketed as being fun and easy and has become extremely popular,” said OBH Deputy Assistant Secretary Quinetta Womack. “We need to let everyone know that there can be potential harms, as well. The lines are getting blurred between a fun game and an age restricted form of entertainment.”
If you have any questions or want more information about problem gambling, please contact the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline at 1-877-770-STOP (7867). The helpline is a confidential referral line that assists individuals in the state of Louisiana who are affected by gambling problems. Louisiana provides free outpatient and residential problem gambling treatment to Louisiana residents and has facilities throughout Louisiana.
The Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to potential gamblers and/or family. Help is also available online at ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/1545 and helpforgambling.org. Problem gambling is a hidden addiction that often goes undetected. Learn the signs before it is too late.