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Giving Lottery Tickets to Kids This Holiday? Try These Responsible Gift Alternatives Instead.

Published: December 5, 2022

The holidays are fast approaching, and for many people the gift shopping season is already in full swing. And with so many gifts to buy, it can be easy to miss a few on your list. That’s when some people might turn to that last-minute gift option: a lottery ticket. 

But even though lottery tickets might seem like an easy in-a-rush gift for the young people in your life, lottery tickets can actually have unintended consequences. Early exposure to gambling products like lottery tickets for young children, who aren’t of legal age to participate in gambling and are not yet equipped with the judgment to engage in gambling behaviors responsibly, can lead to developing a problem with gambling later in life. 

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling many young people report that their first gambling experience happened when they were between 9-11 years old. And approximately 60 percent of high school aged children reporting having gambled with real money in the past year, with 4-6 percent of adolescents reporting a serious problem with gambling, compared to adult gambling disorder prevalence rates, which are about 1-2 percent of the population.

So instead of lottery tickets, gift responsibly this season and consider giving these easy alternative gifts: 

  • Movie tickets: They’re just as cheap as lottery tickets and going to the movies together is a great way to bond as a family. Who doesn’t love a holiday blockbuster? 
  • Board games: Board games aren’t just like Monopoly anymore, with interesting and new board games being released for children and teenagers of all ages. Good Housekeeping magazine has even selected 35 of the best ones, tested by real kids. A board game can be a great hang-out activity for the whole family after a holiday dinner. 
  • Gift Cards: Giving a gift card to a child’s favorite store means they can choose a gift they like. And going with them to the store can also be a fun after-holiday outing together. 
  • An IOU: It might seem a little cheesy, but an IOU for a future activity with you is actually a cost-effective and easy way to give a gift that will bring light to a child’s eyes. Try giving them an IOU for a camping adventure, a theme park or county fair visit, or a nice dinner at their favorite restaurant. When they cash in the IOU, they’ll get the greatest gift of all: time with you. 

To learn more about how to help prevent youth gambling and access free fact sheets, discussion guides, and other resources, visit 

If you are concerned about your gambling habits or about the habits of someone you know, call the free Problem Gambling Helpline. Confidential support from trained and understanding specialists is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-589-9966 or texting 4HOPE to 741741.

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