It’s the time of year when parents are scrambling for holiday stocking stuffers. And inevitably, the idea of scratch-off tickets pops in their heads. After all, kids love scratch-offs.

It’s also the time of year when lottery agencies and gambling councils issue the following message: Don’t give kids lottery tickets.

And of course, I have to state here: it technically is illegal.

BanksPhotos from Getty Images Signature via Canva
BanksPhotos from Getty Images Signature via Canva

But that’s not why they discourage gifting the scratch-offs or other tickets.

Their reason is that the earlier they start gambling by playing with lottery tickets, the more likely they are to have gambling addictions when they get older. I think this is a huge leap.

The theory is that kids cannot process gambling correctly.

That adults can recognize that a winning lottery ticket is a stroke of luck, a random chance, but that kids and teens have difficulty putting a win into perspective because they don't understand how gambling

Here’s the problem I have with that theory: While children don’t necessarily understand gambling for a monetary reward, they learn to gamble every time they roll dice in monopoly, spin the wheel in the game of “Life” or pop the little bubble in the “Trouble” board.

Lottery ticket with a marked numbers.
(Getty Stock)

Not to mention the tickets that spit out of a skee ball machine or an arcade game.

Even your innocent home Bingo game is a stepping stone to gambling once the B-4’s, N-40’s and O-61’s are rolled around and randomly ejected.

Just because the prize isn’t money, the anticipation is the same, the luck of the draw is the same and the thrill of winning is the same.

Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock

While it’s true that tickets aren’t money, they can translate to prizes — which to kids are better than cash— at arcades like Dave and Buster’s, iPlay America, and the like.

While it’s surely not playing craps, rolling dice or flicking a spinner and landing on go-to-jail or free parking are just as much games of chance as scratching off lottery tickets are.

What’s more, scratch-off Lottery tickets have colorful themes and kid-friendly designs that are just like the board games they happily play at home on family game night.

Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock

So what’s the difference?

A kid who could be attracted to gambling is getting his first taste of it from the first time he plays a kids' game. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.

Life is a gamble. A kid’s gonna figure that out whether he scratches that ticket or not. That’s actually a GOOD lesson.

So not giving the scratch-off card isn’t the answer.

What really works is if you do, it’s up to you to teach your kid the responsibility involved.

THAT'S what makes the difference.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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