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OLG: Don’t buy lotto tickets as stocking stuffers for kids

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The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is reminding people ahead of the Holidays that lottery tickets should only be given to those 18 and older.

OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti said that instant scratch tickets make excellent stocking stuffers, but he still hears of people giving them to minors.

"We just want to set that reminder in place, just keep it at top of mind especially at this time of year, lottery tickets are not for children," Bitonti said.

Shelley White, CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council, said giving lottery products to minors is irresponsible.

"By condoning an activity like lottery tickets underage, it sends a message to kids in terms of 'it’s OK to participate in this activity even though I'm not of age,'" White said.

In the last year, she said that "31 per cent of secondary students reported gambling on one or more activities."

 Although lottery tickets may be an inexpensive gift with a big upside, if given to a minor they lose their upside, Bitonti said.

"When they come to the prize centre to claim that prize, if they're under 18 they don't get the prize at all, their parents don't get the prize,” he said.

“That prize is forfeited because someone bought the ticket, or used the ticket, and tried to claim the ticket, as well."

If a child does receive a lottery ticket as a present, White said parents can turn it into a teaching moment.

"Parents can explain what gambling is, the risks involved, and why there are legal age limits," she said.

They add that, while they are of age, people 18-25 are still more likely to develop a gambling addiction.

People aged 18-25 are technically able to gamble, but White suggests they and their family monitor their gambling, as their prefrontal cortex, which is used in decision-making, is not fully developed.

"If they see behaviours that are concerning them, in terms of buying scratch tickets, playing the lottery a lot, even if they're legal age, actually talking to them, and getting them support," she said. 

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