As adults, we understand the holidays are to be celebrated alongside loved ones and others. But for young children and adolescents, there’s another part of the holiday excitement – receiving gifts. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) encourages parents, family members and others to leave lottery games and scratch off tickets off their children’s gift lists as we celebrate National Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. The FCCG is again joining forces with the National Council on Problem Gambling’s Gift Responsibly initiative to educate communities on the risks of youth gambling.
Youth Gambling Risks
Problem gambling prevention starts with children. Gambling is illegal in Florida for persons under age 18 and while many adults believe lottery games and scratch offs are harmless, they can be a gateway to gambling for minors unable to fully grasp associated risks. Research shows the earlier a person is exposed to or participates in gambling during childhood, the likelier they are to develop a gambling problem later in life. As exposure to gambling often occurs during adolescence, several studies reveal adolescent problem gambling prevalence rates 3 to 10 times higher than adults.
According to the NCPG 
- 10-14% of adolescents are at risk for developing a gambling problem.
- 4-6% of adolescents presently have a serious gambling problem.
- Many young people report their first gambling experience between ages 9 and 11.
- Almost 60% of high-school-aged adolescents report having gambled for money in the last year.
Youth-Targeted Gambling Marketing
Parents and others are not solely responsible for mistaking lottery games as appropriate gifts for minors. The marketing of gambling products has long pushed the boundary of explicitly targeting minors with the use of colorful, “cute” or well-known children’s characters in campaigns. This year, Addams Family scratch-offs hit stores in several states to draw in buyers .
Beyond the gambling industry, many video games feature gambling activities not reflected by their Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) ratings. ESRB ratings provide essential information to parents and others, enabling them to make informed purchases. Today, adults need to be attentive to the games children play and the time they spend on computers, cell phones and other devices.
You Can Help Prevent Youth Problem Gambling
This holiday season and beyond, help the FCCG continue raising awareness of the associated dangers of youth gambling. Beyond understanding that lottery products are not child appropriate, here are several suggested guidelines that can help when speaking with minors:
- Explain what gambling is and how it works.
- Provide insight that gambling is not a way to make money because most times people lose
- Advise how gambling addiction, like alcohol/drug abuse, impacts upon persons of all ages.
- Set/stick to family rules about screen time/cell phone and web use.
- Educate about warning signs of gambling addiction.
- Pay attention to behavioral/emotional/lifestyle changes.
For more information about youth gambling or for assistance with a gambling problem, contact Your One Sure Thing, 888-ADMIT-IT, for free, confidential, and multilingual 24/7 supports.
- National Council on Problem Gambling. “Gift Responsibly Campaign”, https://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/gift-responsibly-campaign/.
- Edelstein Jeff, USBETS, ‘Addams Family’ Cartoon Scratch-offs Are Way Too Kid Friendly. Published October 27, 2022.