An issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canadian society is that of underage gambling. Young people under the age of 18 are now getting involved in an activity that is reserved for adults, and a new program from the McGill Centre seeks to discourage them from doing so. In conjunction with the American National Council on Gambling, the McGill Centre aims to ensure that young people understand the realities of gambling rather than seeing it in the glamourized way in which pop culture depicts the activity.
The first order of business for the two organizations is to discourage parents from gifting scratchcards and lottery tickets to their children. When birthdays and other holidays roll around, parents often give lottery tickets to their underage children, thinking of it as a harmful gift. However, problem gambling researchers state that this could be riskier than most parents believe.
”They become adults and they can do it in a responsible way,” says Jeffrey Derevensky of McGill University’s International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors “But this is not a child behaviour.”
Simply exposing children to gambling from a young age distorts their view of the activity. The do not have the maturity and judgement skills to know that there are many responsibilities that come along whenever an adult gambles. Should they win on a gifted lottery ticket, that is even more harmful, as it distorts the young person’s realistic perceptions of gambling, thinking it is easier to win than it actually is.
Lottery organizations from across the country will take part in the initiative, making it a nation-wide campaign to discourage underage gambling. Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Quebec are all on board. Seven American states have joined as well. Other countries have also expressed interested in working with the campaign, including Austria and Sweden. As such, this program will be wide-reaching and we hope that it will see a great deal of success.