This Christmas, 38 lotteries across America are joining together to urge parents not to give lottery scratchers as presents to their children as gifts. In New York, under-18s are banned from buying the tickets, with the age limit standing at 21 if alcohol is served on the premises, but there is no law to stop a minor claiming a prize won on a game.
However, the lottery can issue a check in the childâ€™s name for amounts under $5,000 and ensure that it is entrusted to an adult family member or guardian. For larger amounts, winnings are placed in an adultâ€™s bank account and they act as custodian for the young winner.
Even with these safeguards in place, New Yorkâ€™s Gambling Commission is driving the message home through the Responsible Play Partnership, claiming it is a vital tool in the fight to prevent children developing gambling problems in the future. The commission is working in conjunction with the National Council on Problem Gambling, whose executive director Keith Whyte agrees that buying scratchers for children is inappropriate, arguing in a press release that â€œgifting children with Lottery tickets sends the message to this impressionable population that youth gambling is acceptable when our research has shown that children who receive Lottery tickets as gifts tend to start gambling earlier in life.â€
As part of the campaign, the state is running public-service announcements bearing the message â€œsome gifts are better left to the grown-ups.â€ The advert shows children on Christmas morning opening disappointing age-inappropriate gifts including tires, dumbbells and a coffee maker.
The Responsible Play Partnership is ensuring all lottery draw tickets and electronic displays at the 18,000 authorised outlets in New York bear the message â€œPlease Gift Responsiblyâ€ during the holiday season. In addition, it is reminding retailers of its potential sanctions for those caught selling tickets to underage customers.
The Empire Stateâ€™s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services recently reported that five percent of adults are impacted by problem gambling, with one in ten of citizens aged between 12 and 17 affected.