GHENT, WV (WVNS) — The Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia issued a reminder for parents to be mindful of gifting gambling gifts like scratch-offs and lottery tickets to their children for the holidays.

Sports betting, now legal on mobile devices in West Virginia, has become increasingly popular and is frequently mentioned as a primary type of gambling by 1-800-GAMBLER helpline callers. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, youth are 2-4 times more likely than adults to develop a gambling problem.

A survey of over 700 West Virginia middle and high school students by PGHNWV revealed 128 did not think gambling could become an addiction, 41 said they gambled “often”, 21 admitted they hid their gambling from others, and 67 said they would like to stop gambling but did not know how.

“For some, gambling can be addictive and cause huge problems – similar to addiction to alcohol or tobacco. As a parent, you wouldn’t give your 10-year-old a six-pack of beer or a carton of cigarettes. We used to be primarily concerned with scratch-off tickets and poker games, but gambling has become much more pervasive. In addition to sports betting cards, there are gift cards for apps and video games, many of which contain gambling elements, such as loot boxes. We urge parents to think twice before buying something for their child that could cause serious problems.”

Jennifer Davis-Walton, Program Director for PGHNWV

Anyone experiencing problem gambling issues can call the Problem Gambling Help Network of West Virginia at 1-800-GAMBLER or chat at 1800Gambler.net. To learn more about youth gambling, visit GetAheadOfTheGame.net.