HELENA — With the gift-giving holidays right around the corner, some might think giving a lottery, or a scratch-off ticket is a good present for a child. The Montana Lottery is cautioning against that, saying it could lead to early gambling addictions.
For children and teenagers, the most common forms of gambling are card games at home or school, lottery tickets, and scratch-off cards.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, early childhood gambling experiences, including those with lottery products, increase the risk of developing gambling problems later in life.
That's why the Montana Lottery's joining the Gift Responsibly Campaign.
"It's a national campaign. Montana is participating along with most other lotteries around the country. They provide some materials for us, others we develop on our own, depending on what messaging and branding we think is going to work well that people will respond to," said Montana Lottery's Content Manager Daniel Iverson.
Addiction and recovery support groups say nearly 70% of adolescents reported gambling before the age of 12.
About 5% of all young people between ages 11 and 17 meet at least one of the criteria for a gambling problem, such as liking the rush felt when gambling according to Pew Research.
"They do make great gifts also, but only for adults, you know, a lot of, a lot of folks, um, I think it's not necessarily a conscious thing they do, but they just think about the fun, they think about a gift they need and they might end up buying a ticket, a scratch ticket or lotto ticket for someone who's under 18 who really shouldn't be playing or exposed to that yet," said Iverson.
Research also shows that teens who gamble may be at risk for other harmful behavior: Including alcohol and drug use, or may experience higher rates of depression or anxiety.
To help combat this, The Montana Lottery is putting its public service campaign right on self-service lottery machines.
"They'll see that message right off the bat, reminding them that lottery tickets aren't child's play is kind of the tagline we're using this here, and that should serve as a reminder that if that's what they kind of had in mind when they were approaching it, to think twice about it," said Iverson.
If you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline, which offers hope and help without stigma or shame. Call or text 1-800-522-4700 or visit their website here.