Thinking it's not a big deal, a lot of adults knowingly give their kids holiday presents that could ruin their lives. That's according to the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ). It's against the law for a minor to buy a lottery ticket, but it is not illegal for an adult to give a lottery ticket to a child.

Don Weinbaum, Executive Director of the Council, says, "While the Council is neutral on gambling, we are concerned that early introduction to any form of gambling can increase the potential for young people to develop gambling problems later in life."

Weinbaum says lottery tickets are often popular stocking stuffers and easy choices to slip into a gift or holiday card. They are generally affordable, colorful and easily available. However, says Weinbaum, there is strong evidence suggesting that gambling at an early age increases the risk of developing a gambling problem. According to recent studies, 70-80 percent of adolescents report having gambled for money in the past year and approximately 30 percent report gambling on a weekly basis. Current problem gamblers report beginning gambling during childhood, often at ages 9-10.

Most youth first gamble with family members explains Weinbaum, "That might be card games. That could be lottery tickets. That could be betting on sporting event, bets in the family……One of the reasons we're concerned is that when kids start gambling at a very young age it increases the risk that they might develop problems later in life."

Weinbaum says it could actually be a very bad thing if you give a child a lottery ticket that turns out to be a winner, "Big wins are sometimes what get people heavily involved in gambling, feeling that they may be lucky (or) that they have an edge."

The Council has joined forces with the New Jersey Lottery to discourage the gifting of lottery tickets to minors.