Holiday Gifts: Don’t Give Children Lottery Tickets Posted On

The weather is colder, there are Christmas trees, menorahs and more in windows, the streets are lit up with strands of white lights, and people are already thinking about their New Year’s resolutions… what does this all mean?

The holiday season is here!

And for many people, holiday shopping is already underway. Did the children you’re shopping for create wish lists? Or are you scrambling to get them gifts they’ll enjoy?

As you do your holiday shopping this season, we have one request: Do not purchase lottery tickets for children and teenagers this holiday season.

Avoid Giving Children Lottery Tickets – Consider Alternative Gifts

We know, lottery tickets seem like the perfect stocking stuffer. They’re small, they’re fun and they have an element of surprise as everyone waits to reveal whether they’ve won money or not. But here’s the scary thing:

The earlier you give children opportunities to gamble, the more likely they are to develop a gambling problem.

Conversations with many problem gamblers – including those in recovery – have revealed that their interests in gambling began at a very young age. Young people are often introduced to gambling by lottery tickets in birthday cards and on holidays, while others gamble for the first time during poker games played with family members at the holidays. Have you done either of these, either as a kid or with kids? It may have seemed innocent at the time, but it can be quite risky!

Selling Lottery Tickets to Children is Illegal for a Reason

Grocery stores, gas stations and other vendors are not allowed to sell children lottery tickets, though they can’t stop you from buying them for children (we’re asking you to not do that).

These vendors aren’t allowed to sell to children because we know the risks associated with problem gambling, and we know that children’s brains develop over time, meaning children and teenagers’ brains cannot assess risks and consequences like adult brains can. It’s the same reason there are age minimums to buy cigarettes and alcohol.

You Can Help Educate Others and Prevent Problem Gambling

Remind your family members and friends about the dangers associated with allowing kids to gamble. Allowing kids to feel the “rush” described with the act of playing a game with the chance of winning money can lead to them wanting that feeling again and again.

It may not be a comfortable conversation to have, but it’s an important one. And you can have it with kids, too. Talk to children about gambling, about problem gambling and why they should wait until they’re older to make any decisions about gambling. Offer them other fun, safe and healthy activities to do instead of scratching lottery tickets and guessing lottery numbers.

Learn More with the National Council on Problem Gambling’s Holiday Lottery Campaign

Each year, the National Council on Problem Gambling and McGill University partner with lotteries throughout the United States to share this important message through the Holiday Lottery Campaign.

Supported in New York by the New York Gaming Commission, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), and the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG), we urge New Yorkers to consider our request – and keep lottery tickets out of the hands of children and teenagers this holiday season.