The New Jersey Lottery’s (NJL) initiative to prevent underage gambling has kicked off in the Garden State. It is needed because of the number of minors who are either playing the lottery or taking part in other forms of gambling.
In response, officials have come up with the “Not 18 Yet? No Bet” awareness campaign. It reminds retailers and New Jersey residents alike that anyone under the age of 18 cannot purchase lottery tickets. The campaign is sponsored by the NJL and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ).
Felicia Grondin, acting executive director of the CCGNJ, explained the campaign is important because “children and teens are gambling when they play the lottery, and that underage gambling is illegal.”
There have been incidents of this occurring, which is why this awareness program was established,” Grondin told Casino.org.
To curb such activities, retailers are given a device that lets them shut down a lottery machine if a minor is seen trying to purchase lottery tickets, she added.
Middle School Kids Are Gambling
She also cited studies which show that in New Jersey over the past 10 years, between 12 and 22 percent of middle school students report having gambled at least one time in the prior 12 months. That is illegal.
Research has also shown that approximately 4 to 5 percent of youth, ages 12-17, meet one or more criteria for having a gambling problem,” Grondin added.
“And another 10-14 percent of youth are considered at-risk for developing an addiction to gambling, alcohol, drugs and smoking,” she said. They are also more likely to experience depression, which could be linked to addictive behaviors.
Adults have a key role to curb gambling among minors.
We know … that, the younger people begin gambling, especially if they gamble with caregivers, the more likely they are to develop problems later in life,” said Lia Nower, director of Rutgers University’s Center for Gambling Studies, to Casino.org.
She adds she is not “a big fan of awareness campaigns. Simply showing someone a catchy phrase and telling them not to do something doesn’t change behavior.”
Instead, she recommends limit-setting tools attached to online products and responsible gambling measures in retail stores to curb underage lottery gambling.
Adults Don’t See Lottery Tickets as Gambling
“The biggest problem with lottery tickets is that adults don’t think they are gambling,” Nower said. “A lot of parents give them to kids as gifts — like in their Christmas stockings — long before they go to buy them on their own.”
Also, the state’s lottery has distributed a “Not 18 Yet? No Bet” brochure. It is available at more than 7,000 New Jersey lottery retail locations, or can be downloaded.
Parents who suspect their child has a gambling problem also can call 1-800-GAMBLER for assistance.
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