Do you think the people on your gift list want another pair of fuzzy socks? Probably. A fancy cat sweater? Obviously, who wouldn’t? Pumpkin spice scented shampoo? Eh, is that even a thing? Here at the Minnesota Lottery, we like to think that lottery tickets make The Perfect Gift for just about anybody on your list. But there is one big exception: never give lottery tickets to minors. Seriously, spread holiday cheer but be sure to gift responsibly.

The Minnesota Lottery and the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling are once again participating in a national responsible gambling campaign to raise awareness about the risks of underage lottery play during the holiday season. Both organizations are promoting the importance of responsible gambling through various media channels, joining a growing effort to raise awareness about this issue around Minnesota, the United States and North America.

“While lottery tickets make for fun gifts for adults, they are not appropriate as a gift for minors,” says Adam Prock, executive director of the Minnesota Lottery. “We want to ensure that lottery participation is both fun and safe.”

“A scratch ticket may provide momentary excitement, but underage recipients don’t have the cognitive development to discern the potential risks of gambling,” says Susan Sheridan Tucker, MNAPG executive director. “This is why tickets sales are limited to adults.” When a trusted adult provides a ticket to a minor, it normalizes the activity as an acceptable practice.

Visit Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling website to learn more about youth gambling in Minnesota.

Here are some things you should know about gambling:

  • Gambling addiction is a disease that can affect anyone
  • People with a gambling problem may spend money they can’t afford to lose
  • People with gambling problems might spend excessive amounts of time gambling
  • A gambling problem can affect many parts of someone’s life, such as school, work, friendships, family relationships and hobbies
  • With the right information and help, young people and parents can overcome gambling problems
  • Children and adolescents tend to model their behavior based on behaviors of others, whether parents, friends or role models.

Source: Partners in Prevention, International Centre for Youth Gambling and Problems & High-Risk Behaviors.

Possible Youth Gambling Indicators

The following are signs of problem gambling that suggest counseling should be sought.

  • Gambling frequently on things like cards, dice, games, sports or online sites
  • Lying about how much was gambled
  • Gambling has become the favorite (or only) activity
  • Trouble concentrating on homework or other things (thinking about gambling)
  • Drinking alcohol or taking drugs
  • Borrowing or stealing money to gamble
  • Missing important events or sneaking out of them to gamble
  • Arguing with friends or family about gambling
  • Thinking that most problems would be solved by getting a big win
  • Thinking that gambling is an easy way to make money
  • Thinking that the odds can be beaten (“I am a good gambler”)
  • Making more bets, assuming that money lost can be won back
  • Feeling the need to bet more and more money

Source: Information on Youth Gambling, Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling

If someone you know needs help with a gambling problem, call (800) 333-HOPE (4673). Treatment is available free of charge for qualifying individuals throughout Minnesota.