21 Dec

Debate over Scratch Off Lottery Tickets at Christmas

Experts urge parents not to buy scratch-off tickets for kids at Christmas.

Christmas Gifts Scratch-Off TicketsWe’ve all heard the argument… Scratch-off lottery tickets are a form of gambling. Underage gambling is illegal. Don not give children scratch-offs as gifts!

Many parents agree with this assessment – many others do not. Every years, untold thousands of lottery scratchies end up in the stockings of young ones. Is it wrong? Is it a pathway to problems down the road? Or is it a harmless way to give the kiddos a little extra spark of excitement during the holidays?

According to researchers at various problem gambling treatment and prevention facilities, it’s never okay, period.

Don’t Buy Scratch-Off Tickets for Kids

One of the multitude of arguments came from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and its local Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators (APGSA). The IDPH Office of Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention points to studies that all vehemently discourage lottery tickets for children.

A spokesperson for the IDPH Office, Eric Preuss, says holiday scratch-offs can lead a minor down a long and destructive road of problem gambling. It’s not just the act of gambling itself, but the effects of a big win that could trigger future issues.

“Studies tell us that an ‘early, big win’ can start a young person on a path to a gambling disorder,” says Preuss. “Research tells us that the sooner a child begins to gamble, the more likely he or she is to develop problem gambling later in life.”

Preuss, like most adults, is well aware that the odds of hitting a ‘big win’ are far from probable. However, a child is unlikely to understand the true odds of winning and losing. If given the impression early on that gambling can be so lucrative, the potential to evolve into a betting addiction is far too great.

Canadian Study Supports IDPH Theory

Researchers at Montreal’s McGill University have published a study that fully supports the IDPH’s theory. In their analysis, it was discovered that 80% of minors (mostly teens) participated in some form of gambling in the last year alone. 30% of those minors did so on a weekly basis.

The study identified several gambling activities that ranked highest on the popularity list for underage individuals. Sports betting ranked number one, followed by scratch-off lottery tickets, card games and various other ‘games of skill’.

The report also identified two major characteristics in the early signs of gambling addiction in minors. They will often boast about winnings, showing an enormous amount of pride in their most lucrative endeavors. They also may begin to lie about losses they’ve incurred, conversely feeling ashamed of less fortunate wagers.

Scratch-Off Lottery Tickets for Adults Only

There is a reason gambling is legally reserved for adults. A mature adult has the cognizance to understand the odds of losing, and make good decisions. That doesn’t mean that we all do. There are adult gambling addicts out there who were never exposed to betting at a young age. But increasing the odds of your child, grandchild, niece or nephew becoming a problem gambler is definitely not worth the cost of a few scratch-off tickets. Save those for the adults, please.


  • Adalene Lucas

    is our jack of all trades here at DBC. She is a skilled coder, gambler, writer and webmaster. She lives in Manitoba where she enjoys the lush landscapes and camping near Tulabi Falls. Nature gives her inspiration to write. When she's not immersed in nature, her favorite words are "game theory". She lives with her husband and their two Labradors, Kophy and Whisper.

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