Giving lottery tickets to children for the holidays is a remarkably bad idea. Giving them to adults simply makes for a crappy gift.
All of which means you might want to rethink that particular stocking stuffer.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an Illinois lottery Merry Mega Multiplier or officially branded National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation scratch ticket for yourself. If that’s your bag — and you’re 18 or older — Santa yourself.
Just try to resist your inner Kris Kringle to buy them — or any lottery product, for that matter — for others. Even if the eye-candy that is Peppermint Payday or Holiday Sparkle is making you feel deliriously festive and generous.
Problem gambling often starts with early exposure
The National Council on Problem Gambling’s Gift Responsibility Campaign says lottery products are never appropriate gifts for children. The reason is simple:
“Research shows that the earlier a person’s participation or even exposure to gambling is in childhood, the more likely they are to develop a gambling problem later in life,” says the NCPG’s website. “Gambling exposure during childhood is often through some kind of lottery product, given by an adult who is likely unaware of the associated risks.”
Given the proliferation of gambling in Illinois — which, beyond a thriving lottery, is home to 11 casinos, seven online sportsbooks, two horse racing tracks and some 44,000 video gaming terminal — it’s important to teach children the importance of gambling responsibility when they are legally able to do so.
Keith Whyte, the executive director of the NCPG, told PlayIllinois in September that informing teenagers about the dangers of gambling should involve the same amount of education and funding as similar high-risk behaviors.
“It’s a national public health issue,” Whyte said. “We’ve got to look at it just like we do other risky behaviors. [Thanks to education] we’ve seen a massive drop in teen smoking, a massive drop in teen drinking. We know that these campaigns work, but it’s got to be competent, it’s got to be an effort by everybody and it’s got to be well funded.”
The NCPG reports that every lottery organization in North America is participating in the fifth instalment of the Gift Responsibly Campaign. In all, 63 lotteries and 53 non-lottery organizations around the world have joined this year’s campaign.
Besides, lottery tickets make a super crappy gift
On a less serious note, those that think they have elevated themselves beside Bill Gates and Warren Buffett on the generosity scale for giving a friend or family member the chance at a life-changing windfall, think again.
Sure, sure, your giftee could win something from that lousy lottery ticket you gave them, maybe even a million-dollar prize. But, statistically, there’s a greater chance they will:
- Die by fireworks — 1 in 386,766
- Be killed by a serial killer — 1 in 645,000
- Date a super model — 1 in 880,000
- Be killed by a shark— 1 in 3.7 million chance.
- Have identical quadruplets — 1 in 15 million (presumably if you’re a woman. No idea how high this goes if you’re male)
- Die in a plane crash on a commercial plane — 1 in 29.4 million
The odds of hitting the Powerball or Mega Millions in Illinois is somewhere between 292 million and 303 million to 1.
The consolidated odds of hitting the grand prize on the Illinois Lottery’s current holiday-themed scratch tickets are:
- Big Blizzard Blowout (price: $10, $500 grand prize) — 793-1
- Holiday Cash Doubler (price $1, $500 grand prize) — 39,939-1
- Merry Mega Multiplier (price $20, $1 million grand prize) — 676,050-1
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (price $2, $20,000 grand prize) — 719,250-1
- Peppermint Payday (price: $3, $50,000 grand prize) — 809,000-1
- Holiday Sparkle (price $10, $250,000 grand prize) — 839,500-1
- Holiday Gold (price $5, $100,000 grand prize) — 956,400-1
That means you’ve just given a gift that’s the equivalent of an inflated baggie.
Moment of honesty #1: Buying someone a lottery ticket is just damn lazy. Clearly, you thought of it while paying for gas or buying a Yoo-hoo.
Moment of honesty #2: You’re hoping the person actually wins and cuts you in. Otherwise, admit it, you’re going to be upset.
10 gifts better than giving a lottery ticket
Yes, that means you’re stuck trying to figure out what to get grandma. And now you don’t know what to leave the sanitation engineers besides your trash and your garbage lottery ticket gift.
We don’t want to leave you hanging.
Here are 10 things PlayIllinois thinks make a better gift than a lottery ticket this holiday season:
- Zubaz pants in the colors of the Seattle Seahawks
- Apocabox subscription (monthly survival tools in a box!)
- Rue McClanahan Golden Girls Chia Pet
- Sauna pants
- Avocado-colored appliance set
- Tater Mitts
- The Flowbee
- Neck Magic Air Cushion
- A subscription to the Moss of the Month club
- Siamese Slanket