Ohio Experts Warn of Hidden Hazards Within Popular Holiday Gifts

Studies show apps with loot boxes, lottery tickets, and other popular offerings often promote improper gambling and can lead to long-term issues.

Situation: With the holidays approaching, experts in child welfare and behavioral health believe several popular gifts may have the unintended consequences of promoting gambling among children and those at risk of developing a gambling problem.

The scope in question is large. A PBS Newshour investigation on social casinos found more than 100 million Americans regularly play on social casino apps.  

The National Center of Problem Gambling also worked with the Federal Trade Commission to study loot boxes, a common reward tactic in social gaming. The similarities between loot boxes and slot machines prompted some of the major video game companies to disclose the odds of loot boxes. Apple also rated games with simulated gambling to M for Mature.

People aren’t the only problem. Advanced data tracking allows AI-based algorithms to target young people and players with serious gambling problems.

Even popular scratch off lottery tickets can pose a risk. The Ohio Lottery encourages people to not give lottery tickets as gifts to minors. The International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University found early participation in gambling increases likelihood of developing a gambling problem later in life.

The Solution: Ohio For Responsible Gambling has earned national recognition for its Before You Bet campaign. Its diverse set of tools provide education and grow awareness of how to keep gambling fun for those who gamble and how to get help for those who need it.

  • A free community toolkit has customizable resources appropriate for organizations that parents, children, and those working with children can use.
  • A free online quiz can help people better understand if they have a potential problem with gambling.
  • Free family resources offer support for family members to help loved ones and cope themselves with a potential problem.

The Sources: Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is available to talk about the proliferation of these games targeting kids, why to not give lottery tickets to kids as gifts, what games to avoid at family gatherings and where the warning signs are for potential problems. We can also work to identify a local parent to share his or her story. It is possible that individual will want his or her name withheld. To arrange a conversation, please call (614) 225-9100 or email dan@irvinpr.com.


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