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Does Giving Kids Lotto Tickets Get Them Hooked?

Parents who give lotto tickets to their kids may be paving the way for problem gambling later on, a study shows.

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By McCarton Ackerman

09/25/12

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Buying lottery tickets and letting your kids scratch them off may sound like fun family bonding to some parents, but it could be planting the seeds for a gambling problem—and other addictive behaviors—later in life. This is according to a new study led by author Priya V. Kundu and investigators Corey E. Pilver, Rani A. Desai, and Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin from the Yale School of Medicine, who observed 2,000 high school students in Connecticut. They found that students who had been given lottery tickets as children developed more permissive attitudes towards gambling than those who did not receive tickets; they also found a correlation between the age at which a child started playing lotto, and the severity of their gambling problem as an adult. Problem gambling was also linked to other conditions such as depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and has been previously linked to suicide. "Our research suggests that family members and friends should consider the possible negative impact of giving children or adolescents lottery tickets as gifts," said Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry, child study, and neurobiology, and senior author of the research. However, the study couldn't determine whether early gifts of lottery tickets influenced problem gambling in later adulthood, since researchers did not follow students over time.

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