This holiday season, some well-meaning family members may consider buying lottery tickets and scratch cards as affordable, colourful and potentially promising gift options for the children and teens on their list. McGill University researchers, the National Council on Problem Gambling and some Canadian and U.S. lotteries are working together to ask families to reconsider purchasing tickets as gifts for minors.
Results from a study last year showed that 19 per cent of high school students received one or more lottery tickets or scratch cards as gifts, of which 86 per cent of these came from family members. These rates fell from a high of 30 per cent in 2004 – perhaps coincidentally the year McGill University began an annual holiday campaign with Loto- Québec out of concerns about adolescent problem gambling.
Working with lottery corporations increases the effectiveness of this very important message. “We ask parents to use their judgment and offer their youngsters gifts unrelated to games of chance,” said Alain Cousineau, president and CEO of Loto-Québec.
Gambling remains a familiar activity for a majority of adolescents, with research suggesting that 70 to 80 per cent of adolescents report having gambled for money in the past year, 30 per cent report gambling on a weekly basis, and current problem gamblers report beginning gambling during childhood, at ages as young as nine or 10.
This year, give the gift of responsibility. The sale of lottery products is reserved to those 18 or 19 years of age and older, depending on the provincial jurisdiction, similar to age restrictions placed on the sale of alcohol and tobacco.
This year, it you choose to offer a lottery product as a gift, remember that gambling is only for adults.