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Editor:

I currently work for the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council of Saratoga County as the youth outreach coordinator partnering with the New York Council on Problem Gambling on the You(th) Decide Project. I am writing to express my concern regarding lottery tickets given out to youth by family members and friends during the graduation season.

Why adults should not offer lottery tickets to youth as gifts: Only individuals of legal age are allowed to buy these products. The law restricts minors’ access to lotteries because of the concern that it may act as a gateway to other forms of gambling. Did you know that adolescents and adults with gambling problems report that they were first introduced to gambling through lottery tickets? These tickets were often bought by family members. During this graduation season, discourage friends and family members giving tickets to underage children. Make them aware that it is not an appropriate activity or present for your child.

Youth Gambling in New York state according to NYCPG:

  • 48 percent of 7-12th graders reported they had gambled in the past year.
  • 10 percent of adolescents in NYS (about 140,000) have had problems due to their gambling.
  • An additional 10 percent are at risk for problem gambling.
  • In 2010, state-sponsored gambling generated approximately $3.2 billion in revenues for NYS.

Remember: There is not just one person, nor one group of people, who are affected by underage gambling. There is not just one factor in someone’s life that alone leads to underage gambling. There is also not just one strategy that will alone prevent underage gambling.

If you, your group/organization, or child, would like to get more involved in YOU(th) Decide in your community, please contact me at ccfw-youth@preventioncouncil.org.

Kara James, Saratoga Springs

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