Pennsylvania Markets Gambling to Kids


So yesterday I was in the grocery store buying duck for the holidays, and as I was checking out I saw a little girl looking longingly into a vending machine, asking her mom if she can have one. A candy machine? No. A machine with little toys? No. An instant lottery game produced by the PA Lottery Commission. To my amazement, the scratch-off cards were filled with comic images, the kinds of which appear in children’s books and on children’s stickers.

Take this one, for example. It looks like a sheet of stickers that my daughter (who is 2.5 years old) would want to play with – not a $10 lottery card!

The government made Camel cigarettes get rid of Joe Camel, but the government uses comic images to sell their gambling games! This is a disgrace.

UPDATE: I’m going to do a bit more research on this topic of gambling, state lotteries and children, but here are a few more thoughts –

The vending machine I saw at the grocery store was low-to-the-ground, displaying most of the gaming cards at a height easily seen by a child. Couldn’t they at least make the machines or displays taller, away from the view of children?

Also, an Oregon study from the late 1990s showed that "Among 13 to 17 year-olds, 39% have played the Oregon Lottery at least once in their life, and 30% reported playing last year. At least 50% of the young lottery players obtain the tickets from family members, and 35% buy them illegally, primarily at grocery stores and convenience stores. This finding was similar to those in other states (Shaffer, H.J., Hall, M.N. and Vander Bilt, J., 1997)." For more on this study, click here.

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
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