The holiday season is welcomed as a time for bringing family and friends together for traditional meals, games and giving to others.
While considering those special gifts, the Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia wants to remind parents and other caring adults that lottery tickets and gambling games are not appropriate gifts for children under age 18.
This year, a particular concern are sports betting gift cards. Sports betting, now legal on mobile devices in West Virginia, has become increasingly popular. This year, for the first time, sports betting was one of the top forms of problematic gambling mentioned by 1800GAMBLER helpline callers. A survey of middle and high school students by PGHNWV revealed that 18% of those surveyed admitted they had bet on sports.
Young people report that their first gambling experiences occur around ages 9-11. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of high school teens admit that they have gambled for money in the past 12 months. Based on studies of adults with gambling problems, the earlier a person begins gambling, the greater likelihood of developing a problem with gambling.
Jennifer Davis-Walton, Program Director for PGHNWV, says, “For some, gambling can be addictive and cause huge problems in life — very similar to addiction to alcohol or tobacco. As a parent, you wouldn’t give your 10-year-old a six-pack of beer or a carton of cigarettes. We ask that you also refrain from giving lottery or scratch-off tickets, betting gift cards and gambling-related games as gifts.”
If gambling is causing problems for someone you love, there is help. Anyone experiencing problem gambling issues can call the Problem Gambling Help Network of WV at 1-800-GAMBLER, or chat at 1800Gambler.net. To learn more about youth gambling, visit GetAheadOfTheGame.net.