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Ohio Experts Warn of Hidden Hazards Within Popular Children’s Games  

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

Thanks to Ohio for Responsible Gambling for sponsoring this post.

girl playing a video game on her phone

As we approach the gift-giving season, many kids (including my own) are asking for video games and hand-held gaming devices. As my kids get older, I’ve had to become more vigilant about what they are seeing, playing and watching.

I’ve recently learned through my contacts at Ohio for Responsible Gambling that some video games may unintentionally promote gambling among children, and I’ve partnered with them to share some pertinent information with you before the holiday season!


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 who 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.  

Additionally, advanced data tracking allows AI-based algorithms to target young people and players with serious gambling problems.

Many games youth play simulates the same excitement and activities experienced by gamblers. Opportunities for instant upgrades, mystery loot boxes and games of chance flash across the screen every time they log in.

Even popular scratch off lottery tickets can pose a risk. The Ohio Lottery encourages people not to 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.

boy looking at a tablet

The Solution:

Ohio For Responsible Gambling has earned national recognition for its Before You Bet campaign. Part of this work focuses specifically on children through a program called Change The Game. Change the Game was developed to raise awareness of the realities of youth gambling and connect parents, educators and children to the resources available for prevention and treatment.

Change the Game isn’t just working to prevent future gambling problems among our youth, they’re working to help those who are being affected right now:

  • A free community toolkit has customizable resources appropriate for organizations that parents, children, and those working with children can use. 
  • Free educational materials can help people better understand if they have a potential problem with gambling.

boy and girl looking at devices in the car

The Sources:

Local experts can be available to talk about the proliferation of these games targeting kids, why to not give lottery tickets to kids as gifts, and where the warning signs are for potential problems. To find out more about the risks of youth gaming and how to educate yourself and the kids in your life, visit


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