YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - You're running around, grabbing last minute gifts for parents, cousins, nieces, nephews and your kids. Do you pick up a few scratch-offs to top off the stockings?
Local shop owners say sales spike right around the holidays.
"A lot of people buy them by the book for the holidays to stock up and then they have them to pass out to everybody. This way, they get all the winners out of the book," said John Colla, owner of Colla's Market.
A lot of families do it, but addiction recovery and mental health experts say to think twice about who you buy those lottery tickets for.
"We would encourage people to not purchase those for children or anyone that is under the age of 18," said Stephanie Geer, coordinator of Meridian Healthcare's gambling program.
It seems like a fun gift, harmless to a child, but often times it is -- there is the potential that it could lead to problems down the road.
"The younger that we introduce gambling to people, the higher risk they are in developing problems with gambling or even a gambling disorder," Geer said.
This is a campaign backed by not only mental health experts, but the Ohio Lottery too.
"We encourage people to have fun but to have fun as adults and it's our responsibility to be aware of that," said Carla Tricarichi, director of the Ohio Lottery Public Policy.
Now, you don't have to go toss your already bought lottery tickets in the trash. With so many kids' gifts on the shelves, they're often an easier option for adults.
"It's hard to buy gifts for older people because they have everything and they go out and buy things as they need and they like holiday tickets. They like scratch-offs so it's a good gift to give people," Colla said.
If someone buys your child (under the age of 18) a lottery ticket, gambling experts say the best thing you can do is talk about it with your child.
"They're still developing and they're still growing and they might not understand the impacts of a bet," Geer said.