New Jersey Renews Campaign to Curb Underage Betting

Annual “Not 18 Yet? No Bet” campaign aimed at underage sports gambling and lottery play is renewed as school returns.
New Jersey Renews Campaign to Curb Underage Betting
September 15, 2021

New Jersey Lottery and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey are partnering together on an annual campaign aimed at stopping problem gambling before it even starts. The “Not 18 Yet? No Bet” campaign coincides with the start of the school year, targeting teens who illegally gaming underage.

The campaign officially launched in early September with a campaign at NJ Lottery locations throughout the state that includes educational resources on age restrictions and problem gambling. While there is a focus on reminding teens, parents, and retailers that playing the lottery under 18 is against the law, the program goes farther than that.

An informational brochure published as part of the campaign identifies the problem as much more than just lottery play. It shows four major types of illegal betting by teens:

  • Sports Betting
  • Lottery
  • Cards, often but not always poker
  • Games of Skill

Lottery is Not Child’s Play

This year’s version of the annual campaign was launched on September 2 at a lottery retailer in Lawrence Township. The New Jersey Lottery (NJL) and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. (CCGNJ) were both represented by James Carey and Felicia Grondin respectively.

“Preventing the onset of gambling addiction among adolescents and young adults is a major focus of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey,” Grondin said about the the campaign, which includes the brochure and other educational resources available at more than 7,000 Lottery retailer locations, and at all Lottery-sponsored presentations.

The brochure, which can also be downloaded in PDF format, has resources for problem gambling such as the 24-hour hotline 1-800-GAMBLER, or the CCGNJ’s website but it also identifies some signs of problem gambling in teens.

The main focus of the program is on the purchase of lottery tickets by underage teens, something Grondin makes clear is illegal. However, some experts point to a bit of a loophole as well.

Lia Nower, director of Rutgers University’s Center for Gambling Studies, spoke to and noted that “A lot of parents give them to kids as gifts”, something that could send the message that lottery tickets aren’t really gambling.

The New Jersey statue explicitly allows this, in fact. According to the Underage Gambling page on the NJ Lottery website, gifts of lottery tickets to people under the age of 18 are acceptable.

STATE LOTTERY LAW N.J.S.A. 5:9-1 et seq.Section 5:9-15 of the Lottery statute states:

“No ticket or share shall be sold to any persons under the age of 18, but this shall not be deemed to prohibit the purchase of a ticket or share for the purpose of making a gift by a person 18 years of age or older to a person less than that age. Any licensee who knowingly sells or offers to sell a lottery ticket or share to any person under the age of 18 is a disorderly person.”

The campaign is running now, and includes advertising at lottery retailers showing customers under 18 are not allowed to buy tickets, as well as technology that allows them to shut down machines that are being used by someone under 18 to purchase tickets.

While the campaign clearly has a lot of good resources to identify and help problem gambling, at least some experts may see allowing underage children to play gifted lottery tickets as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

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