What Are the Odds on Naughty or Nice?

Every year, thousands of children receive lottery and scratch-off tickets as gifts. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators (APGSA) want to spread the word that lottery and other gambling products are not for children under the age of 18. 

“Studies tell us that an ‘early, big win’ can start a young person on a path to a gambling disorder,” said Eric Preuss of the IDPH Office of Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention. “Plus, research tells us that the sooner a child begins to gamble, the more likely he or she is to develop problem gambling issues in later life. Bottom line is – lottery tickets shouldn’t be given to kids.”

Research indicates the major types of teen betting are sports betting, the lottery, card games like poker, and games of skill like pool or basketball. A study conducted by the McGill University Youth Gambling Research Centre found 70 to 80 percent of adolescents questioned reported having gambled for money in the past year and approximately 30 percent reported gambling on a weekly basis. To minimize the risks associated with youth gambling, be sure to give youngsters age-appropriate gifts.

Signs of problem gambling in youth include:

  • Bragging about wins or lying about losses
  • Increasing time and money spent gambling
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Excessive phone use, texting and/or internet activities
  • Increased interest in the outcome of sports or games
  • Personal or home items going missing

Help for individuals or families affected by problem gambling is available by calling 1-800-BETS OFF. Information about problem gambling is available
at yourlifeiowa.org/gambling.

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