The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has issued advice to adults to reconsider including lottery-related products in the holiday gifts for children through its #GiftSmart campaign. This initiative is part of a broader effort to address concerns around youth gambling.
In a press release, BCLC cites statistical research that indicates that approximately 10-14% of adolescents are susceptible to developing gambling-related problems. Additionally, 4-6% of youths aged between 12 and 17 years are currently affected by problematic gambling behaviours. Notably, global studies reveal that individuals who encounter gambling issues often begin engaging in such activities around the age of 10.
“Early participation or exposure to gambling in childhood can increase the risk of developing a gambling problem later in life. Adults may be unaware of these associated risks, so, as part of our commitment to healthy play, it’s a priority for us to share the message that lottery products should never be gifted to kids,” said BCLC Director of Player Health Ryan McCarthy.
“It’s never too early to start the conversation. While kids and gambling don’t mix, many teenagers are already doing it by betting on things like a card game or by purchasing a virtual loot box,” he added.
McCarthy has provided several guidelines for parents. These include customizing discussions based on the child’s interests. For instance, parents can explain the random nature and risks of loot boxes for children interested in video games.
He also suggests educating children about the less obvious signs of gambling problems, such as concealing debts or missing school. Emphasizing the importance of role modelling, he advises parents to set a positive example, as children often learn from observing their parents’ behaviours.
In collaboration with the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) and McGill University’s International Centre for Youth Gambling, BCLC is sharing its #GiftSmart campaign across the North American gambling world.
This initiative includes reminders at over 3,400 lottery retail locations across British Columbia and through various social media platforms. Additional resources and information for families, including tools and ideas to assist parents, are available on the GameSense website, which supports the #GiftSmart movement.