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This holiday season, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is warning people that “Lottery tickets are not child’s play.” The Council on Chemical Abuse is joining NCPG in spreading this message, reminding adults to “gift responsibly,” and raising awareness about the risks of youth gambling, and the dangers of buying lottery tickets for children.
While lottery tickets are often perceived as a fun and easy gift, they can unwittingly make children and teens more vulnerable to gambling problems. According to the NCPG, “early gambling experiences, including with lottery tickets, are a risk factor for later gambling problems.”
Berks County youth are not immune to this risk. Data from the 2019 Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) revealed that a total of 31.8% of the Berks County middle school and high school students surveyed had engaged in “gambling for money or anything of value in their lifetime” (compared to 33.7% at the state level). “The most frequently reported form of gambling was ‘lottery [scratch cards, numbers, etc.]’ reported by 18.2% of Berks County students who had gambled in the past 12 months (compared to 20.2% at the state level),” according to the survey report.
“Despite being promoted as a harmless form of entertainment, gambling operates on the same reward pathways and the same neurotransmitters as ATOD (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) addiction. Youth gambling is associated with alcohol and drug use, truancy, low grades, and risk-taking behavior,” authors of the survey report stated.
This December, COCA will encourage the Berks County community to “gift responsibly” through messages on billboards, social media posts, and by offering gift alternative ideas for youth.
Need Help for a Gambling or Gaming Problem? Call 1-800 GAMBLER (426-2537) or visit the PA Council website.