Letters to the Editor

Lottery tickets are not child's play: give responsibly

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 to 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 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:

• Two to 4 percent of adolescents currently have a gambling problem, with another 10 to 14 percent at-risk for developing a gambling problem.

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

• Approximately 80 percent 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.

I encourage you to learn the facts and give responsibly this holiday season.

Angela Harbour

Area Substance Abuse Council

Cedar Rapids

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