Dear Editor,

Gifting lottery tickets to children may seem fun and harmless. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling and the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University, however, early gambling experiences — including lottery products—are a risk factor for later problem gambling. In fact, a large number of young people report their first gambling experience occurs around 9-11 years of age. Adult problem gamblers also report early onset of gambling, often beginning between the ages of 10 and 19.

The Holiday Lottery Responsible Gambling Campaign raises awareness about the risks of youth gambling and educates communities on the dangers of buying lottery tickets for children. Public education campaigns, like the Holiday Lottery Responsible Gambling Campaign, play an important role in changing social norms and providing basic facts and education.

When you are holiday shopping this season, please consider these facts:

2-4% of adolescents currently have a gambling problem with another 10-14% of adolescents being at-risk for developing a gambling problem. In contrast, adult problem gambling prevalence rates are about 1-2% of the population. 

While male adolescents gamble more frequently than females, female adolescents are more actively involved in lottery play.

Approximately 80% of high-school aged adolescents report having gambled for money during the past year.

Lottery scratch tickets have been shown to present a possible gateway to other gambling activities.

Lottery Tickets are not child’s play. I encourage you to learn the facts and give responsibly this holiday season.

You can learn more about responsible gambling at ncgpambling.org and youthgambling.com.

Tiffany Harris

Clinton, Iowa