Gambling and kids

Today is another guest post, this time from Jen Wheatley of the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation. Thanks Jen! Are you interested in writing a guest blog post for HRM Parent? Email with your ideas.

With the holiday season upon us, the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation (NSGF) would like Nova Scotians to think twice before buying scratch tickets and gambling-related items as stocking stuffers or gifts for children and youth under 19.

While some well-meaning adults may be tempted by the presumed ease and low cost of lottery ticket gifts, these items may come with a hefty price long-term. Not only is underage gambling an illegal activity, research shows that it can increase the potential for youth to develop gambling problems later in life.

“Unfortunately for some at-risk youth, games of chance have the potential to be damaging long-term,” says Celeste Gotell, Executive Director of the NSGF. “This practice also contributes to the further normalization of gambling within our society, which can put youth at further risk of developing gambling problems.”

Twenty-five years ago we didn’t think twice about the potential risks of giving children candy cigarettes – today we know better. Should we not learn from that and question the gambling-related products we give our to children play with?

Chocolate poker chips, toy slot machines, toy poker sets, handheld blackjack devices, and online video games like “Mario Video Poker” ( are examples of gambling products marketed to youth this holiday season. There are even products available that directly target infants and young children. For your toddler you can purchase the “JackPotty”, a training potty fashioned like a slot machine, which blinks and makes noise when children “hit the jackpot”. Both online and in store, parents can purchase infant and youth sized t-shirts fashioned with phrases like “A Very Poker Christmas”, “My Daddy Can Bluff Your Daddy”, and “Future Poker Star.”

While some of these products may seem to be innocent fun, they contribute to the normalization of gambling, which puts Nova Scotian youth at further risk of developing gambling problems. According to Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection’s 2008 Nova Scotia Adolescent Gambling Exploratory Research, key factors associated with gambling harm and risk to youth 13 to 18 include: exposure to gambling by adults, exposure to gambling “know-how” (gambling which provides training or practice) and having others facilitate or encourage them to gamble.

“It is important that we address the role products play in youth’s perception of gambling,” says Gotell, “The gifts we give model our values and beliefs, and go a long way to shaping youth’s own perceptions of gambling, and subsequently informing their behaviour.”

The Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation (NSGF) plays a vital role in the independent response to problem gambling in Nova Scotia. This is accomplished, in part, through funding to community groups and researchers to help address problem gambling.   In addition to funding community and research grants, the NSGF monitors local, national and international developments using multi-level communications strategies to inform and engage Nova Scotians in balanced dialogue on gambling problems.

To learn more about the Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation, and to access our resource library, please visit our website at .

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