Letter to the Editor regarding Lottery Tickets as Gifts

2007112004Dear Editor,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! In every store front; every radio ad, online banner and TV commercial is advertising all of the wonderful gifts that you could choose to give your loved ones this year. Be careful that you don’t gift an item that might create temptation or cause a problem for that friend or family member.

Lottery tickets are a popular item to give as a gift, as they are inexpensive, simple, and seem to be fun for just about everyone! However, for someone who has a history of problem gambling, your simple $5 gift could create a reaction that impacts the incoming year and many that follow. If your cousin, to whom you randomly gift a cheap lottery ticket (because you have no idea what to give him) has an addictive personality or a past issue with alcohol or drugs, he could have a negative experience because that simple gift causes him to get caught up in old behaviors or even initiate gambling addiction. According to PlayItSafeOhio.org, 2 million Americans are pathological gamblers and playing the lottery is one of the largest forms of gambling. Studies on the brain indicate that a person, who has a gambling addiction, neurologically is no different than someone who has an addiction to alcohol or other drugs. Ohio isn’t currently experiencing major issues with problem gambling but gifting lottery tickets does make it more difficult for those who struggle.

Don’t let this message deter you from giving great gifts to all of loved ones this year. Instead, simply be mindful of all those around you that struggle with behavioral and mental health concerns. Keep the holidays about bringing out the best in others and encouraging positive behavioral health. In a world faced with violence, discrimination and poverty, provide hope and encouragement to all those you love this holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Melissa Smith

Melissa Smith Chair, Problem Gambling Prevention Workgroup
Licking County Prevention Partnership
Pathways of Central Ohio
For more information on problem gambling, call 2-1-1 or contact Krista Pruitt,
LCPP Project Manager at
kpruitt@pathwaysco.org or 740.345.6166 ext. 220.