Problem Gambling Council Advises Against Giving Lottery Tickets as Teen Gifts

Posted on: December 5, 2023, 12:15h. 

Last updated on: December 4, 2023, 12:25h.

Lottery tickets should not be given as gifts to individuals not legally old enough to play the games, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). Doing so could lead to early exposure to gambling and potentially result in the development of gaming issues later on.

lottery tickets gifts problem gambling NCPG
An advertisement from the Florida Lottery shows lottery tickets in Christmas stockings. The National Council on Problem Gambling says lottery tickets are poor presents for children. (Image: Florida Lottery)

The NCPG is urging adults to only purchase age-appropriate gifts for children and not engage in buying lottery products, such as holiday-themed scratch-offs, which could expose children to potential risks.

Providers of problem gambling treatment say many adults seeking assistance report they began gambling at a young age. The NCPG’s mission is to minimize the economic and social costs associated with gambling addiction.

In partnership with 66 lotteries and 84 community organizations, the NCPG has launched the 2023 Gift Responsibly Campaign, a public service announcement aimed at highlighting the risks associated with purchasing lottery tickets for children.

Toys, Not Games of Chance

The NCPG is advocating for a shift towards more traditional gifts like toys for children.

Executive Director of the NCPG, Keith Whyte, emphasizes, “Lottery tickets are not suitable gifts for children or teens. The Gift Responsibly campaign is one of the largest international responsible gambling awareness campaigns, underlining our commitment to safeguarding youth and promoting responsible gambling practices worldwide.”

The NCPG estimates that annually, two million U.S. adults meet the criteria for severe problem gambling. An additional 2%-3% are considered to have a mild or moderate gambling disorder.

The NCPG believes problem gambling costs the U.S. $7 billion annually. The nonprofit organization states that “a vast majority of kids” have gambled before their 18th birthday.

The problem is said to be escalating with the legal expansion of sports betting across the country. The NCPG estimates that 10%-14% of adolescents are at risk of developing a gambling problem, and 4%-6% already have one.

State Lotteries Issue PSAs

In addition to the NCPG’s awareness campaign, state lotteries and gaming regulatory agencies are issuing parallel messages about the dangers of gifting lottery tickets to youths.

Chair of the New York Gaming Commission, Brian O’Dwyer, states, “Many times, a child’s first exposure to gambling comes in the form of a gifted lottery ticket from a well-meaning adult who may be unaware of the associated risks. We encourage age-appropriate gifts this holiday season and throughout the year.”

While lottery tickets are discouraged as gifts for children, they can make great presents for adults, especially with the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots growing in value. The Powerball jackpot for Monday night’s drawing was an estimated $412 million. Mega Millions is at $377 million for Tuesday night’s drawing.

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