Officials say avoid these stocking stuffers for children

West Virginia

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A scratch-off ticket might seem like a fun gift to fill up a kid’s stockings or to send as something extra in a holiday card, but officials warn about gifting gambling-related items to young people.

Young people report that their first gambling experiences occur around ages 9-11, according to The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia (PGHNWV). In fact, the network said in a press release that 60 to 80 percent of high school teens admit that they have gambled for money in the past 12 months. Based on studies of adults with gambling problems, the earlier a person begins gambling, the greater likelihood of developing a problem with gambling.

The PGHNWV reminds parents and other adults that lottery tickets and gambling games are not appropriate gifts for children under age 18.

“For some, gambling can be addictive and cause huge problems in life – very similar to addiction to alcohol or tobacco,” said Jennifer Davis-Walton, Program Director for PGHNWV. “As a parent, you wouldn’t give your 10-year-old a six-pack of beer or a carton of cigarettes. We ask that you also refrain from giving lottery or scratch-off tickets, betting gift cards, and gambling-related games as gifts.”

This year, one particular concern is sports betting gift cards. Sports betting, is now legal on mobile devices in West Virginia and has become increasingly popular. A survey of middle and high school students by PGHNWV revealed that 18% of those surveyed admitted they had bet on sports.

Anyone experiencing problem gambling issues can call the Problem Gambling Help Network of WV at 1-800-GAMBLER, or chat at To learn more about youth gambling, click here.

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