With Thanksgiving over, the holiday shopping season has the full attention of many Americans. But in Minnesota and elsewhere, people are being asked to be responsible when buying lottery tickets as gifts.
The Minnesota Lottery and the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling are again taking part in an annual campaign to discourage giving scratch-off tickets and related games to kids under 18.
The Alliance’s Executive Director Susan Sheridan Tucker said while giving one or two tickets as a stocking stuffer might seem harmless, a child can misconstrue how often someone can win.
“So,” said Tucker, “if they happen to get a ticket that gives them money, it sends a message that, ‘Oh, well, this is pretty easy. Every time I do this, I’m going to get a reward.'”
She said most young people aren’t familiar with the actual odds of winning.
Tucker added that there’s growing concern about gambling trends among teens. The most recent Minnesota Student Survey found roughly 10,000 students reported having gambling-related problems.
The broader campaign is led by the National Council on Problem Gambling.
The Minnesota Lottery’s Public Affairs Strategist Marie Hinton said in addition to sending the wrong message, adults need to remember that it’s a matter of following the law.
“By law, in Minnesota,” said Hinton, “a person must be 18 years of age or older to purchase a lottery ticket or to redeem a lottery prize, that’s very clear. And it’s also clearly stated in the contract that all of our retailers sign.”
She said that message is also reinforced in newsletters and training information retailers receive.
And this should stick with adults not only during the holidays but year-round, as it can be a concern for graduation season and other milestone celebrations.
The Alliance says parents should also pay close attention to built-in gambling components in online video games, to see if any troubling patterns emerge.